Governor M. Jodi Rell today announced that $2.25 million in bond funding for the state’s Brownfield Pilot Program is expected to gain approval when the state Bond Commission meets May 30.
The pilot program is part of Governor Rell’s broader Responsible Growth strategy. Reusing brownfields – former factory sites and other contaminated property – and turning them into productive engines of economic development helps preserve virgin land and creates new jobs.
The pilot program was established under the same law that created the Office of Brownfield Remediation and Development within the Department of Economic and Community Development – a measure that passed with only a single dissenting vote between the state House of Representatives and Senate.
“This pilot program will target five high-priority sites for redevelopment, located in communities of all sizes and descriptions across Connecticut,” Governor Rell said. “Brownfields offer a win-win-win solution to many of the pressing issues facing our state, especially as we combat a downturn in the national economy and continue our focus on keeping and growing jobs in Connecticut.
“The program makes economic sense, since it is intended to produce significant economic development for the five cities and towns that receive the grants,” the Governor said. “It also makes environmental sense, since it cleans up and restores to fruitful use land that is currently fallow, meaning open space, farmland and other pristine property can be saved. And it makes sense for the affected communities, since brownfields are typically located in the parts of our cities and towns where jobs and a revitalized tax base are needed most.”
Governor Rell thanked state Representative Jeffrey Berger (D-73), the co-chair of the Legislature’s Commerce Committee, for his support of the pilot program.
“These dormant industrial sites are more than relics of the past – they have the potential to be economic hubs of the future,” Representative Berger said. “This pilot program will enable cities and towns to revitalize their economies, keep and grow jobs and build their tax base without taking up more land or radically changing the face of the community. I am eager to see these pilot projects move forward and I appreciate the support of Governor Rell and the Bond Commission for this effort.”
Under the program, five communities will be targeted funding under the pilot program: one municipality with a population under 50,000; one with a population between 50,000 and 100,000; two with populations greater than 100,000; and a fifth without regard to population.
Governor Rell has identified brownfields as a major area of emphasis for state economic development and environmental remediation efforts. Her other strategies also include 2007 legislation that gives current property owners more incentives for cleaning up their sites and establishes a variety of programs to assist them, including allowing town assessors to reduce the tax value of business property where owners agree to perform remediation. The law also allows the Connecticut Development Authority to guarantee bank loans and issue bonds on behalf of towns for redeveloping brownfields.