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Brownfields Showcase Community

Background - The Showcase Community Designation: The state of Rhode Island and the Providence Plantations received the Brownfields Showcase Community designation for the Woonasquatucket River Greenway Project in 1998. Since 1998 the State of Rhode Island and the City of Providence have designated two sites as Brownfields along the Woonasquatucket River Greenway. They plan to return the Riverside Mills and Lincoln Lace and Braid sites to beneficial use, revitalize distressed areas along the river, and restore pride and well-being to disadvantaged neighborhoods. Both brownfields sites were acquired by the City of Providence. Riverside Mills has been cleaned up and converted into a new park! Plans are still being formulated to turn the Lincoln Lace and Braid site into a park. For now the Lincoln Lace and Braid site is not a safe place to walk! However, the goal of the Brownfields Showcase Community program is to make is a safe and attractive places that people will care for once more.

What is a Brownfield?

A Brownfield is an abandoned, idled, or under-used industrial and commercial facilities where expansion or redevelopment is complicated by real or perceived environmental contamination. (US EPA)

For More Information

EPA Brownfields Website

Both sites lie in the Woonasquatucket River's floodplain and both had mostly intact but degraded wetlands. Wetlands restoration work has been undertaken at Riverside Park and a fish ladder is being installed as well to allow for fish passage around the dam.

Status of the Sites: The uses of the sites was determined through a community planning process as part of the master plan for the Woonasquatucket River Greenway. Uses include a bicycle path, recreational opportunities and greenspace. The main stem of the bike path, which passes through the Riverside site, has been completed, as has the park at Riverside Mills, now called Riverside Park. The future park space at Lincoln Lace and Braid is being developed by the City of Providence and the Urban Design Group. Since this site will be reused for outdoor recreation the City of Providence and the State of Rhode Island have decided to clean the sites to the highest standard (residential), as has already been done at Riverside.

At Lincoln Lace and Braid partial remediation has been completed, where underground storage tanks and above ground debris had been removed. A small landfill was discovered on part of the site and has been capped.

For more information about Brownfields in general or the Brownfields in Providence please see the list of contacts below.

The Riverside Mills site before the remediation work was started.

Remediation work underway at Riverside Mills in September of 2005. A key part of the remediation was removing buried oil tanks.

The new playground at Riverside Park! Plans are still being developed for the brick building in the background of this image.

Project Funding and Needs: Senator Jack Reed helped secure a $1 million award from the Department of Housing and Urban Development for clean up at the Riverside Mills site. The award was announced by Senator Reed and Mayor Cianci in the spring of 2000.  $450,000 was granted by the Greenways Council of Rhode Island and  $100,000  was granted by the RI Trails Advisory Committee for improvements at the Riverside Mills site. The City has also received $25,000 to do wetlands planning at both Brownfields sites.

What is a Brownfield Showcase Community?: The Brownfields Showcase Community Program was started by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 1998.

"Brownfields Showcase Communities have three main goals: to promote environmental protection, economic redevelopment and community revitalization through the assessment, cleanup and sustainable reuse of brownfields; to link Federal, State, local and non-governmental action supporting community efforts to restore and reuse brownfields; and to develop national models demonstrating the positive results of public and private collaboration addressing brownfields challenges. A partnership of more than 15 Federal agencies with interests in brownfields redevelopment has designated 16 Brownfields Showcase Communities."

Who can I contact for more information?

Woonasquatucket River Watershed Council

45 Eagle Street, Suite 202, Providence, RI 02909

(401) 861-9046

City of Providence, Department of Planning and Development

400 Westminster St. Providence, RI 02903

(401) 351-4300

Rhode Island Dept. of Environmental Management (RI DEM)

Office of Waste Management

235 Promenade St.,  Providence, RI 02908

(401) 222-2797

Rhode Island Department of Health

Office of Environmental Health Risk Assessment

Three Capitol Hill, Providence, RI 02908

(401) 222-4948

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

US EPA-NE, One Congress St., Boston, MA 02114-2023

1-800-EPA-REG1 (1-800-372-7341)

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