The $400,000 granted Gloucester by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for assessing the city's "brownfields" cleanup needs can be used anywhere the city chooses, but the application put the focus on the waterfront and downtown.
That is where the need is said to be greatest and redevelopment the priority, city officials say.
"Gloucester has over 200 brownfield sites," city grants administrator Sharon DuBois wrote in the application. "Of 187 parcels with known releases listed with the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, most are in the downtown area, abutting or close to the working waterfront along the harbor.
"These brownfields include former fish processing facilities, warehouses, fuel storage and distribution facilities (to support the fishing fleet), former and abandoned wharves, marinas and other businesses that date back over 200 years," the city proposal reads.
Listed sites mentioned by DuBois in her application include a former manufacturing gas plant (in the vicinity of Solomon Jacobs Park) located on Harbor Loop, marinas located on the waterfront in the Rocky Neck area, and the Gloucester Marine Railway site.
The railway is not qualified for EPA brownfields remediation funding due to its private ownership, DuBois said.
She explained she had cited the railway in the application as an example of the problems faced by the waterfront.
Two waterfront properties owned by the city do qualify, however: The two acre I-4, C-2 parcel at 65 Rogers St. and 110 Commercial St. the old Producer's Oil site, which stretches from the Parisi to Amero properties on the Fort, faces the Paint Factory across the neck of the inner harbor and is being eyed for cleanup before the city puts it up for auction as a likely marine industrial site.
Mayor Carolyn Kirk identified the Fort property, now used for storing lobster traps, as a top priority of hers during the awarding event Tuesday involving EPA officials and Congressman John Tierney.
The city acquired the Rogers Street property in 2010, and foreclosed on the Commercial street property in a 09 tax taking.
Two $200,000 assessment grants were announced Tuesday at the historic Tarr & Wonson Paint Factory, whose owner, the nonprofit Ocean Alliance, was also given $400,000 to advance if not complete the detoxification of the most visible — the Manufactory — building.
The Manufactory was where the paint was mixed, and so is thick with toxins, and in all likelihood will be removed and rebuilt in a precise facsimile to the original.
"Downtown Gloucester," DuBois wrote in her application, "is home to some of Cape Ann's lowest income residents. The city's four poorest Census tracts are located in the downtown adjacent to or abutting the waterfront where 18.9 percent of the population lives below poverty level. This is the location of most of the state listed sites and brownfields showing a direct link between the location or poorest residents and brownfields."
DuBois wrote that the death rate from cancer in Gloucester is 221.3 per 100,000 residents, which is 125 percent of the state average, with lung cancer deaths at 83 per 100,000 residents, or 69 percent above the state average. The breast cancer rate is 35 percent above the state average, while the age-specific rate of bronchus and lung cancer mortality for males between 75 and 84 years of age is nearly 62 percent of the state average.
Lead poisoning in children is 1.2 per 1,000 children screened — or 433 percent of the state average, the grant application indicates.
"Two groups most sensitive to environmental health risks are our elderly and young children," the application noted. "Lead and asbestos exposure risks are elevated due to the disproportionately high percentage of older homes in the community," DuBois wrote.
Of 4,904 rental units, only 673 have been deleaded, she said, based on city records.
According to 2010 U.S. Census figures, the application notes, 12,389 people live in the identified Census downtown tract, with a poverty rate of more than 18 percent and annual per-capita income of $19,063. The overall city population was 28,789, with a 7 percent poverty rate and a per capital income of $37,151.
From the assessments will come a priority list of brownfields properties, and another round of competitive applications.
In granting $800,000 to the Ocean Alliance for actual detox work on the Paint Factory and the city for assessments, the EPA was distributing more than $17 million across the New England region.
With the grant funding, EPA said it expects the city to conduct eight Phase I and up to four Phase II general site assessments, and eight Phase I and up to five Phase II petroleum site assessments.
Richard Gaines can be reached at 978-283-7000, x3464, or at email@example.com.