HCPC Has Grant Funds for Environmental Site Assessments

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The Hancock County Planning Commission (HCPC) has received a $400,000 grant from the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Brownfields Program.  The grant is intended to spur re-use of sites where there is potential contamination.  HCPC has used the grant funds to hire an environmental consultant to conduct site investigations.

What is a Brownfield?
Brownfields sites are any property where there is a real or perceived environmental issue that impedes its sale, redevelopment, or use.  Typical Brownfields sites in Hancock County include: gasoline and automobile service stations, junk yards, marinas, petroleum storage facilities, wood mills, machine shops, or pretty much any abandoned or underused commercial or industrial property. The perception that a property is contaminated can discourage investment, sale, or reuse.

What Is the Purpose of the Program?
This program provides funding for site investigations to determine the extent of contamination.  The process can be likened to a medical examination.  In some cases, the property will be given a clean bill of health.   In others, remedial measures may be recommended.  This greatly facilitates the reuse of a property.  The benefits of the Brownfields Program include higher property values, new jobs, increased tax revenue, reduction of closed tidal flats, and protection of human health and the environment.

Why Should Frenchman Bay Partners Be Interested?
Brownfields sites are one potential source of contamination to marine resources such as impaired or at risk tidal flats.  Although bacteria sources of impairment are not a part of the program, contaminants related to hazardous materials and petroleum are eligible for assessment.  Waterfront sites and properties in the Frenchman Bay watershed have benefitted from brownfields investigations.

For example, previous grants facilitated the development of a public wharf in Sullivan, recreational trails in Hancock, and business properties in Ellsworth.  Under the current grant, Campbell Environmental Group, the consulting firm hired by the HCPC has completed investigations of a portion of the former Navy facility in Corea,  the tannery property in Hancock, and waterfront business site in Ellsworth.

How Can We Learn More?
HCPC is currently expanding its inventory of eligible Brownfields Sites.  If you have or are familiar with a property or tidal flat that may qualify as  a Brownfields site, or are interested in learning more about HCPC and Brownfields, feel free to contact Tom Martin at HCPC (207-667-7131)  or tmartin@hcpcme.org .  Tom is the Brownfields Coordinator for this grant and will be delighted to answer any questions.