The Kennebec Valley Council of Governments was one of several Maine communities and organizations that received federal funding to redevelop brownfield properties.

Of the $3.2 million allocated statewide, KVCOG received $200,000, according to an announcement from the offices of U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and U.S. Sen. Angus King, I-Maine.

Kennebec Valley Council of Governments Community and Economic Development Specialist Cary Tyson said the funding will go toward a handful of assessment projects in the region, including two large textile mills in Waterville, the Madison paper mill and the tannery annexation in Hartland. He said the money will help pay for remediation and planning.

“Part of what keeps those mills from being as active as people want is the brownfields and contamination,” Tyson said.

Tyson said the group probably will make requests for qualifications this summer and hopefully will receive responses from qualified environmental professionals to choose from.

“We’re excited about that,” he said.

All told, 10 Maine communities across the state received and shared the funding, with the Androscoggin Valley Council of Governments receiving the largest amount, $800,000.

Recipients also included Portland, Sanford, Camden, Wiscasset, the Greater Portland Council of Governments, the Lincoln County Regional Planning Commission and others. The grants are awarded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and will be used to develop contaminated sites.

“The cleanup and proper disposal of hazardous waste not only enhances the safety of our communities, it creates new opportunities for economic development and job creation,” Collins and King said in a joint statement. “We are pleased that the EPA has designated these sites throughout Maine as recipients of vital federal funding for the revitalization of brownfield sites, and we welcome their continued investment.”

King and Collins requested an assessment from the Economic Development Assessment Team in March 2016 that eventually was conducted in January 2017. The assessment highlighted the importance of the Brownfields Program.

This isn’t the first time that KVOC — in Kennebec, Somerset and Waldo counties — has received federal funding to redevelop brownfields, properties where re-development is impeded because of contamination. In June 2016, KVCOG received $500,000 to create a revolving loan fund to help clean up environmentally hazardous waste sites. Tyson said a considerable amount of those loans have been issued, and that the funds continue to revolve as payback comes in. The money they received in this batch from the EPA is separate from the revolving fund.

“We’re trying to have the biggest impact we can,” he said.

In the past, similar loans have helped turn a contaminated schoolhouse in Unity into the Unity Food Hub, which works with farms across central Maine; turn an old tannery in Hartland into manufacturing space; create space for a new medical building in a deserted manufacturing services building in Gardiner; and turn the former Seton Hospital in Waterville into housing.

Colin Ellis — 861-9253

[email protected]

Twitter: @colinoellis

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