LACONIA — The Lakes Region Planning Commission (LRPC) was recently awarded $200,000 from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Brownfields Program to assist Lakes Region communities with assessments of vacant and underutilized sites that remain in that state due to concerns about environmental contamination from hazardous materials.
According to Kimon Koulet, LRPC Executive Director, our goals for the funding include, "Creating and preserving Open Space, increasing economic opportunities in the Lakes Region, and reducing the threat to human health and the environment. Our previous Brownfields funding led to the clean-up of sites in Bristol, Franklin, and Tilton, as well as a special assessment for the Lakes Region Facility in Laconia. EPA has given this region another opportunity to work on more eligible properties, which we appreciate."
The new award will enable LRPC to hire a qualified environmental firm to conduct Phase 1 and Phase 2 studies of Brownfields in the Lakes Region. Phase 1 assessments examine current and former uses of a property in order to determine the potential for environmental issues. Phase 2 studies involve collecting laboratory samples and data necessary to confirm or dismiss any environmental questions identified during Phase 1. These studies are important steps before cleanup and reuse can occur.
Brownfields sites are defined under the Brownfields Revitalization Act of 2002 as "real property, the expansion, redevelopment, or reuse of which may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant."
The LRPC plans to initiate the program this fall, and to conclude the program within the next three years. An association of 30 communities, the LRPC has active programs in land use and environmental planning, transportation, watershed protection, economic development, technical assistance, and information services.
For additional information about the federal Brownfields program in New England, see http://www.epa.gov/region1/brownfields/index.html. For other questions, please contact the LRPC at 279-8171.