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Updated: May 8, 2020

Maine to receive $1.3M for brownfields cleanup at three sites

Photo / Maureen Milliken Our Katahdin in Millinocket will receive $850,000 in U.S. EPA assessment and cleanup grants for the former Great Northern Paper Mill, which stopped operating in 2008.

Three Maine grantees will receive $1.3 million to assess and clean up contaminated properties under the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Brownfields Program.

The funds will aid underserved and economically disadvantaged communities, including neighborhoods in Opportunity Zones, in assessing and cleaning up abandoned industrial and commercial properties, according to a news release.

An Opportunity Zone is an economically distressed community where new investment, under certain conditions, may be eligible for preferential tax treatment. 

“The funding will allow Maine DEP [Department of Environmental Protection] to assist communities statewide with clean-up and redevelopment possibilities,” Maine DEP Commissioner Jerry Reid said in the release.

“Many Maine towns are working to reinvent themselves by attracting clean, modern industries after local mills closed. Millinocket is a perfect example. EPA’s Brownfields Initiative will promote the clean-up and redevelopment of projects like Our Katahdin’s revitalization of the former Great Northern paper mill site and complement other similar projects across the state.”

Brownfields grant recipients

Androscoggin Valley Council of Governments: $300,000 assessment grant to conduct environmental site assessments, develop clean-up plans and support reuse planning and community outreach activities for sites to be selected throughout the grant. Target areas are communities along the Androscoggin River on major transportation corridors that lead to the rural Western Maine region, including three qualified Opportunity Zones. Priority sites include a Lewiston/Auburn Community Housing project in Lewiston, former St. Louis Church in Auburn and former Holy Savior School in Rumford.

Lewiston/Auburn Community Housing is planning a mixed-use residential/commercial redevelopment project in downtown Lewiston. 

The brownfields assessment funds will allow the Androscoggin Valley Council of Governments to continue to address assessment needs throughout the region. The council has already assessed and redeveloped several properties. 

“Additional assessment funds will allow us to continue our work to plan for the reuse of sites for municipal, economic development and housing opportunities as well as recreation and green space,” Amy Landry, the council’s executive director, said in the release.

Our Katahdin: $350,000 assessment grant to conduct detailed environmental site assessments at the former Great Northern Paper Mill at 1 Katahdin Ave. in Millinocket. The 1,400-acre site was originally developed as a pulp and paper mill complex, which operated at the property from 1900 to 2008 and has since been vacant and unused. Grant funds also will be used to develop cleanup plans and support and reuse planning and community outreach activities, including a design charrette to solicit public input on the reuse of the site. The site is located within a qualified Opportunity Zone.

Our Katahdin, a nonprofit owner of the property, will also receive a $500,000 cleanup grant for the mill’s administration building, constructed in 1913 and contaminated with PCBs, heavy metals and inorganic contaminants. Funds also will be used to develop a community relations plan, prepare outreach and educational materials, and conduct at least two public meetings. 

City of Portland: $250,000 community-wide assessment grant to inventory sites and conduct environmental site assessments throughout the city. Funds also will be used to develop cleanup plans and support community outreach activities. Assessment activities will focus on the Bayside and East Bayside neighborhoods, which are partially located in a qualified Opportunity Zone. The priority site is a two-block industrial tract bounded by Somerset, Chestnut, Lancaster and Pearl streets, which currently is used as an open trailer lot and scrap yard.

“EPA's grant award will enable the city of Portland, through the economic development department, to provide grants to evaluate environmental contamination to eligible commercial and residential sites to support their redevelopment and reuse,” Mayor Kate Synder said in the release.

The Maine awards are part of a total of $7.2 million awarded to 16 New England communities to assess or clean contaminated brownfields sites.

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