Norwich — City leaders and U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney, D-2nd District, on Tuesday celebrated the city’s successful application for a $384,000 brownfields assessment grant that will be used in three targeted former industrial areas: downtown, the Shipping Street district and the Ponemah Mills in Taftville.
H. Curtis Spalding, regional administrator for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s New England office, praised city leaders for their quality application in the highly competitive brownfields assessment grant program.
The $384,000 for Norwich was part of a total $15.9 million in brownfields grants awarded to municipalities and organizations in all six New England states.
Mayor Deberey Hinchey pointed to the windows in the Council Chambers, where Tuesday morning’s news conference was held.
A former textile mill on Franklin and Chestnut streets dominates the view and is one of the targeted areas for the assessment grant.
“Your help and these moneys will help bring those buildings back to the glory state that they were,” Hinchey said to Spalding and Courtney.
Following the 30-minute news conference, the group toured the $30 million Ponemah Mill renovation project to convert the largest mill in the complex into 116 apartments.
The new EPA funding will not go for that project, Hinchey said, but could help in assessing possible contamination in the remaining buildings in the mill complex.
The grant also could apply to the 40 acres in the Shipping Street former industrial complex on the Thames River.
The city received a $200,000 EPA brownfields assessment grant for property at 28 Shipping Street eight years ago.
But recent plans to relocate the city’s boat launch to the area were canceled after concerns that the district’s location in a flood plain could stymie future development plans.
Spalding said EPA assessment grants are designed to answer questions about potential environmental contamination at former industrial properties.
The assessments could spark development by giving interested parties reports on contamination and potential cleanup costs.
“Typically, planning grants do generate cleanup grants,” Spalding said.