The Two Rivers-Ottauquechee Regional Commission (TRORC) recently closed out its sixth federal grant aimed at bringing brownfield sites back into productive use and spurring new economic investment.  TRORC has sought and been awarded $1.6 million of funding from the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) over the past two decades and has looked at dozens of sites in towns throughout Orange and Windsor counties. TRORC successfully applied for another $300,000 in brownfields assessment grant funding from EPA this year, and is just starting to receive those funds to continue this needed work.

Assessment costs can be a significant hurdle to revitalizing a brownfield site. Kevin Geiger, TRORC’s Senior Planner and past program manager, says, “It is not unusual for us to spend more money figuring out what is on the site than it costs later for any cleanup.”  Some examples of redevelopment that benefited from past assessment include Prospect Street in Hartford, Salisbury Square in Randolph, the expansion of FarmWay in Bradford, and the East End in Woodstock.

Assessments performed by TRORC and its specialized firms fully quantify the nature and extent of any contamination on a site through a three-step process that estimates what might be present, tests the site, and then makes a plan for any needed cleanup. EPA and the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation keep an eye on assessments, providing developers with assurance that this expensive and time-consuming work is of high quality. Assessing a site can be a difficult process for landowners, since it starts out with many unknowns, but virtually any redevelopment will have to go through this process in order to limit risks to owner and buyers, and they would usually have to pay for it all.  Instead, TRORC’s services are grant funded and free, helping to make redevelopment a viable endeavor.

TRORC is once again looking for sites that could benefit from this assistance.  Sarah Wraight, a new Regional Planner who is taking over management of the program, says, “TRORC is pleased to continue partnering with local communities to create opportunities for redevelopment and to protect public and environmental health.”

TRORC provides professional planning, mapping, facilitation, grant writing, and project management services for its thirty member towns in east-central Vermont.

For more information about TRORC’s Brownfields Program, contact Sarah Wraight at 802-457-3188 or [email protected]