Berkshire Brownfields Program

Program Manager: Melissa Provencher –

EPA Definition of Brownfields: “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. Cleaning up and reinvesting in these properties protects the environment, reduces blight, and takes development pressures off greenspaces and working lands.”

The Berkshire Brownfields Program was created in 2004 when the Berkshire Regional Planning Commission (BRPC) received its first grant from the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to conduct Environmental Site Assessments (ESA) at Brownfields sites. Since then, the Berkshire Brownfields Program has grown to include an Assessment Program for Phase I & II ESAs and Site Reuse & Cleanup Planning, a Revolving Loan Fund for Brownfields Cleanups, and site specific Cleanup Projects.

As a result of the Berkshire Brownfields Program, some sites have been assessed and been found to have no contamination that requires cleanup – lifting the veil of uncertainty from these sites. Other sites now have answers regarding the levels of contamination and a plan to move forward, yet others have advanced to cleanup and redevelopment. This program has included or led to:

  • removal of debris;
  • installation of fencing and signage;
  • removal of underground storage tanks;
  • building demolition;
  • site remediation;
  • and provided prospective purchasers with federal liability protections.

BRPC has prepared a guide to grants, loans, tax incentives, liability protection, and technical assistance concerning brownfields, called the Berkshire Brownfields Resource Directory. It is available for download. Also, available for download is additional information for the Revolving Loan Fund for Brownfields Cleanups.

Berkshire Brownfields Assessment Program
The Berkshire Brownfields Assessment Program consists of Phase I, II and III assessments for sites across the region contaminated by petroleum and hazardous materials. Assessments at eligible sites approved by the Berkshire Brownfields Committee are conducted by a Licensed Site Professional (LSP) contracted by BRPC. This program assists public, private, and non-profit property owners with initial assessment activities to uncover possible contamination and develop remediation plans. Persons seeking to submit their site for consideration under the Berkshire Brownfield Assessment Program must first fill out a site profile form available on the side bar.

Berkshire Brownfields Revolving Loan Fund (RLF)
The Berkshire Brownfields Revolving Loan Fund was established through a grant from EPA and lends funds for cleanup activities. This fund provides subordinated loans and subgrants to enhance the credit worthiness of conventional or other traditional loans and may fill funding gaps in the financial mix of a project. Loans are available to public, private, and non-profit entities. Subgrants are limited to municipalities and non-profits. The loan application is a three-part process starting with a site eligibility check list. All application forms are available on the side bar.

Site Specific Cleanup Projects
The Berkshire Regional Planning Commission provides assistance to eligible entities to apply for and manage EPA Cleanup Grants for specific sites. Brownfields Cleanup Grants provide funding for a grant recipient to carry out cleanup activities at brownfield sites. Funds may be used to address sites contaminated by petroleum and/or hazardous substances, pollutants, or contaminants (including hazardous substances comingled with petroleum). Recent examples of EPA Cleanup Grants include:

Ried Cleaners – Town of Great Barrington

Hoosac Valley Coal & Grain – Town of Adams

508 State Road, North Adams – Greylock Flume Inc.

25 School Street, Lee – Town of Lee

339 North Street, Dalton – Dalton Redevelopment Authority and

Lee – Brownfields Area-Wide Plan
In 2013 the Town of Lee was selected by EPA as one of twenty nation-wide Brownfields Area-Wide Planning grant recipients. BRPC worked with the Towns of Lee and Lenox to create a Stakeholders Group which included:

Lee Conservation Commission
Lee Town Administrator
Lenox Planning Board
Lenox Town Planner
Former mill managers
Housatonic Valley Association
Mill Renaissance, LLC (mill developer)
Niagara Worldwide (mill owner)

Through this project a brownfields area-wide plan was developed for the former Schweitzer-Mauduit mills that make up an industrial area just north of the downtown, with four former paper mills located within 1.5 miles of one another and connected by common infrastructure. The project included research on the existing conditions and infrastructure capacity, a market study, and community involvement through public meetings and a brownfields visioning session. These efforts established a comprehensive framework for future action at each of the four brownfields sites. A link to the plan can be found in the sidebar.