Collaboration leads to redevelopment in Chicopee May 2, 2012
The City of Chicopee recently celebrated the demolition of the Facemate Factory Complex, a milestone achieved through coordination and collaboration between the city and the Patrick-Murray Administration's Brownfield Support Team (BST).
During my time as mayor of Worcester, I learned the value of collaborating across local, state, and federal agencies to expedite economic development projects that create jobs. I carried this experience with me when I became lieutenant governor, and continue to share best practices to facilitate redevelopment in cities and towns around the Commonwealth. As I travel throughout the state, I often hear from municipal officials and private developers the challenge of balancing environmental protection with economic needs. In many of Massachusetts' Gateway Cities, former industrial sites, or brownfields, remain empty and underutilized because of real or perceived contamination issues.
Fortunately, environmental protection and economic development are not mutually exclusive goals. In 2008, Gov. [Deval] Patrick and I recognized the value of increasing coordination and collaboration in cities and towns to help advance brownfields redevelopment as part of our jobs and economic development strategy. In partnership with MassDevelopment, the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development, and the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, I launched the BST to address the challenges of some of the state's most complex brownfield sites.
That work is paying off. Since the launch of the BST, our Administration has coordinated assistance for very complex sites in eleven communities. Through this coordination, the BST has leveraged $18 million to support assessment, clean up, and demolition for brownfields revitalization and economic development projects. The BST has led monthly coordination with 24 local, state, and federal agencies, not only streamlining and accelerating the remediation process, but also helping communities overcome many roadblocks to redevelop 312 acres of previously contaminated properties. Among the various agencies involved, the BST has collaborated with the Attorney General's Office, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region 1, and State Rep. [Joseph] Wagner and the rest of the state delegation.
These properties are now becoming launching pads for economic growth. The Facemate Factory Complex is just one example of how the BST is paving the way for future development in Massachusetts. Last fall, I joined Mayor Bissonnette to announce $1 million in state funding to support ongoing environmental assessment and cleanup at the site. This complemented a $5 million loan from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for further assessment and demolition secured by Congressman [Richard] Neal.
This cleanup is critical to the city's overall redevelopment plans which will spur economic activity in the downtown commercial district and support jobs and business growth across the region. The proposed development, known as "RiverMills at Chicopee Falls," will connect RiverMills to Chicopee's downtown commercial district through the Chicopee RiverWalk. Once complete, the development will include an older adult community center on six acres with forty acres of land for housing and retail space.
The BST initiative is a great success story for redeveloping former blighted sites like the Facemate Factory Complex and boosting local and regional economies. By focusing local, state, and federal resources through a team approach, we are redeveloping and revitalizing vacant manufacturing facilities and historic waterfront areas while also promoting opportunities that will support long-term economic growth and environmental sustainability across the Commonwealth.
Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts