DEM announces new funding for brownfield site cleanups

PORTSMOUTH, R.I. — The Department of Environmental Management (DEM) recently announced new funding opportunities for the cleanup and redevelopment of contaminated properties, known as brownfields, across Rhode Island.

In all, $2.75 million is available through the request for proposals (RFP), which interested persons, organizations, and businesses may view here. Of the total, $2 million comes from the 2018 Green Economy Bond, which voters passed by a 79%-21% margin last November, and $750,000 is from leftover monies unspent from previous rounds of grant awards.

Brownfields occupy many acres of desirable commercial and industrial space within the state’s urban corridors. Remediation and redevelopment of these sites not only mitigates the threat to public health and the environment from exposure to uncontrolled contamination, but also can create and attract jobs, help small businesses, revitalize streets and neighborhoods, increase the community tax base, and support RI’s commitment to producing 10 times as much clean energy by 2020. In DEM’s last round of funding (October 2018), four of the 12 projects awarded had green energy characteristics including one solar farm, two rooftop solar installations, and one LEED-certified apartment building.

“Transforming contaminated brownfields sites into productive, cleaner spaces is one of the smartest investments government can make,” said Governor Gina Raimondo. “I am committed to putting brownfields grant dollars to the best use for Rhode Island communities and continuing to set bold goals for Rhode Island to be a cleaner, greener state.”

Through its Brownfields Remediation and Economic Development Fund, DEM aims to “accelerate the return of brownfields to productive reuse and strengthen Rhode Island’s economic base,” states the new RFP. In this vein, DEM has added a new category called “simple site closure grants” to its existing site preparation and redevelopment grants. Through awarding 10 grants, each up to $75,000, DEM hopes to help close out projects on brownfield sites that already have been investigated and are on their way to being remediated but haven’t been found compliant yet.

“Through this RFP, we’re looking forward to seeing applications for shovel-ready projects that clean up contaminated sites while generating full-time jobs and incorporating green energy elements,” said DEM Director Janet Coit. “The community cleanups and investments made possible by brownfields grants underscore the power of the Green Economy Bond that finances it and the wisdom of Rhode Islanders for approving the bond by an overwhelming margin last November.”

Rhode Island’s brownfields grant program, which covers 80 percent of a project’s cost, provides needed resources for site preparation and redevelopment projects. Site preparation grants are available for properties that have been declared a brownfield based on previous site investigation work but lack an approved Remedial Action Work Plan (RAWP). These grants can be used to fill gaps that exist in site investigation data and to develop and analyze actions necessary for an approved RAWP. Redevelopment grants are available for projects with completed and approved site investigations and an approved RAWP and Remedial Approval Letter or Order of Approval through DEM.

According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, an estimated 7.3 jobs are supported per $100,000 spent on brownfield redevelopment.

How to Apply:

The RFP opens today with an application deadline of August 9, 2019. Final proposals and supporting materials are due by 4 PM on Friday, August 9, 2019. Government, private, and community agencies are eligible to apply. Project selection will be determined on a competitive basis.

DEM has a single application form for Site Cleanup Funding, available here, under “Site Cleanup Funding Opportunities.” The form can be used to apply for any of the grant opportunities mentioned in this news release. Electronic submissions are encouraged; however, proposals also may be mailed to the DEM Permit Application Center, 235 Promenade Street, Second Floor, Providence, RI 02908.

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