By Brent Addleman | The Center Square
A $6 million investment in brownfield remediation has been committed in Burlington, Vermont Gov. Phil Scott said.
The governor, joined by the agencies of Natural Resources and Commerce and Development, announced the funding will support a cleanup and redevelopment project at 453 Pine St. in the city of roughly 42,000 people.
Under the current proposal, according to the release, the efforts are being led by a pair of entrepreneurs who wish to instill a Nordic-style bathhouse and wellness space, along with a bowling alley, entertainment venue, and additional open space, on the property.
“Economic revitalization has been a top priority of my administration and turning unusable brownfields into opportunities plays an important role in communities,” Scott said in a release. “Brownfields are some of the biggest, most complex legal, financial, and environmental projects in Vermont, but when cleaned up, they can have huge economic and environmental benefits.”
The location was placed in 2013 into the state’s Brownfield Economic Revitalization Alliance plan. However, the site has redevelopment challenges because of contamination and proximity to Lake Champlain.
The property, which is situated in the south end of the city, sits across from the Pine Street Canal Superfund Site. That site was a former coal gasification facility which closed in 1966. Clean-up efforts featured an array of challenges and expense because of the contamination, which drove off developers over the decades, according to the release.
“This site represents some of the toughest redevelopment challenges caused by contamination in Vermont,” Agency of Natural Resources Secretary Julie Moore said in the release. “Success at 453 Pine St. is possible because of the BERA program and advancements in science proving that remediation work is not only possible, but necessary to return this land to health.
“This site’s future would still be unknown had the governor not proposed historic levels of funding for this program. Brownfield funds are crucial to maintaining the connection between a healthy environment and healthy economy as communities increasingly recognize these sites as assets rather than eye sores.”
According to the release, the site plan will assist Burlington’s South End arts district and provide a space for community gathering in that section of the city.
Lindsay Kurrle, secretary for the Agency of Commerce and Community Development, said the cleanup further serves business growth that will bring visitors and jobs to the region.
According to the release, the state plans to invest $25 million in brownfields through Act 74. The investment in Burlington is the largest in the state.
The BERA program has served six sites, and two of those projects have been completed – the Robertson Paper Mill in Bellows Falls and Richmond Creamery in Richmond. Two additional sites have been engrossed in the program and funding is in place for Jones & Lamson Plant 1 in Springfield and the Fonda site in St. Albans.