Standing a block from Main Street, Gov. Peter Shumlin today announced two grants that will allow the City of Barre to address flood risks, clean up environmental contamination and redevelop a central part of its downtown known as Enterprise Aly.
Long slated for improvements in Barre's master plan, the area was flooded in the spring of 2011 when the Stevens Branch overflowed its banks during heavy storms. Flood waters damaged the area -- the site of environmental contamination -- and flowed into the back of Main Street businesses, threatening the spread of hazardous materials.
Barre will receive a $1 million grant of Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Disaster Recovery funds from the Agency of Commerce and Community Development, and $600,000 in Brownfields grants from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
The Department of Environmental Conservation, housed within the Agency of Natural Resources, administers the state brownfields program. The CDBG Disaster Recovery funds come to the state from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
"Barre continues to march towards its future," said Gov. Shumlin. "Under the leadership of Mayor Lauzon and with the support of Barre residents, these grants will make this area of the downtown safer, more attractive and accessible. Soon, businesses along Main Street can focus on the customers coming in the front door without worrying about floodwaters and other hazards coming in the back."
"The Enterprise Aly project is a perfect example of what these programs are meant to do -- return our state and federal tax dollars to our community and make it stronger," said Mayor Thom Lauzon. "This funding will allow us to clean up and improve this site creating parking and more economic activity in heart of Barre," he added.
The Enterprise Aly project will decrease the likelihood of downtown flooding by making improvements to the storm drainage system and altering elevations to direct floodwaters away from buildings. It will also clean up a hazardous area around Depot Square that was contaminated by a former dry cleaner on the site. The project is partially funded by the City, including through its Tax Increment Financing district, and an ACCD Downtown Transportation Grant. It will also create more parking, make traffic and streetscape improvements and integrate a section of the Barre City Bike Path into the area. The project is the first phase of a larger redevelopment plan to improve the four acre Merchants Row area located behind the buildings along North Main Street.
The $1 million CDBG Disaster Recovery Grant is part of $40 million in funding Vermont received as the result of a provision championed by U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy, Senator Bernie Sanders, and Congressman Peter Welch in the federal budget process. It comes from HUD, is administered by the Department of Housing and Community Development of ACCD and is used to help the state recover from Tropical Storm Irene and the spring floods of 2011.
"HUD is proud to be a partner in helping the City of Barre build a stronger, more environmentally and economically resilient downtown area," said Michael McNamara, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Vermont Field Office Director.
The $600,000 in Brownfields Cleanup Funding for the project was granted to the City through EPA's nationally competitive Brownfields Grant Program. This year, EPA awarded $67 million nationwide for brownfields assessment, cleanup and revolving loan funds in order to help make environmental progress on key sites in communities. The state brownfields program is administered by the Department of Environmental Conservation at ANR.
"Barre is doing a tremendous job using federal money from EPA and HUD to further redevelopment and resilience in their community," said Curt Spalding, Regional Administrator at EPA New England. "This investment in the redevelopment of Enterprise Aly will improve the health and prosperity of the community."