Diana Campbell, executive director of the Mosaico Business & Community Development Corp. in Bristol, and Diane M. Williamson, director of community development for the town, are hopeful a $200,000 brownfield-cleanup grant will help ensure the firm’s site at the Bristol Industrial Park will soon be put to good use.
“Our work now is focused on bringing the industrial park up to fire and building codes,” Campbell said. “A Phase II site assessment was conducted last year. They found petroleum in the parking lot area but the buildings don’t have those issues anymore.” Luckily for Mosaico, very little oil contamination was found at the site so it requires relatively minor removal and repaving work, but the real beneficiaries are the potential industries, businesses and boarders; therein lays the true economic benefit.
Almost half the town worked there, at Kaiser, during World War II. “The plan is to bring it back as a vibrant, industrial complex,” she said. “So far it’s going well; the site is half full with small businesses, artists, a few manufacturers, woodworkers and entrepreneurs. We want to bring in more tenants in the hope of making it a small-business incubator. We’re hoping to have an impact on local employment.”
As director of community development, Williamson agreed: “We’ve been behind this project from the very beginning and have helped out in any way possible, including assisting with the applications for grant funding,” she said.
In June 2011, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency awarded the R.I. Department of Environmental Management a $400,000 grant for evaluating the presence of hazardous materials, including petroleum, on suspected sites. Half of the money went to hazardous-material assessments and the other half to petroleum. That money supports local municipalities and environmental consultants to investigate and assess property damage due to environmental contamination. In some cases cleanup costs are also allotted.
Last week, the EPA said it would provide $1.2 million in brownfield grants this year to help Rhode Island communities assess, cleanup and redevelop abandoned or contaminated properties. Among the recipients is Mosaico; Paul Cuffee School, Providence, $400,000; the state DEM, $400,000; and Blackstone Valley Community Action Program, Pawtucket, $200,000.