A view of the massive Bates Mill No. 5 on Main Street in Lewiston. According to the EPA, potential projects include, “important sites such as Bates Mill in Lewiston and the 60 Minot Ave. site in Auburn, which are in environmental justice areas.” Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

LEWISTON — A revolving loan fund used by the Androscoggin Valley Council of Governments (AVCOG) to issue environmental cleanup grants to regional redevelopment projects was replenished Wednesday with $330,000 from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The Brownfields revolving loan fund grants have been used locally on projects including Sophia’s House and Gauvreau Place in Lewiston, as well as the Forster Mill cleanup in Wilton. According to AVCOG, another loan is pending for the Best Western Hotel project in Rumford.

A news release Wednesday announced $2.16 million in funding statewide, with funding going to communities “that have demonstrated success in using their revolving loan funds to clean up and redevelop brownfield sites.”

“The supplemental funds will be used to continue their progress in reusing vacant and abandoned properties and turning them into community assets such as housing, recreation and open space, health facilities, social services, and commerce opportunities,” the release said.

The release said the funding for AVCOG would “recapitalize” their loan fund from which they provide loans and grants to support cleanup activities in the area of Lewiston, Auburn, and surrounding communities. It will increase the AVCOG loan fund to more than $1.75 million.

According to the EPA, potential projects include, “important sites such as Bates Mill in Lewiston and the 60 Minot Ave. site in Auburn, which are in environmental justice areas.”

Amy Landry, executive director of AVCOG, said so far the funds are not earmarked for any specific project.

She said AVCOG develops a potential project list based on ones “that we know of or have used our assessment program.” She said Bates Mill No. 5 currently has an existing EPA cleanup grant, which came directly from the EPA, “but may require additional funds to complete the cleanup, meaning there’s potential it could apply for revolving loan funds as well.

Lincoln Jeffers, director of economic and community development in Lewiston, said staff has had discussions with AVCOG, but the city has not formally applied for the program.

“However the need is recognized. They are a good partner and I am sure they will do what they can to assist the project when the time comes,” he said.

In addition, AVCOG has an EPA-funded Brownfields Assessment program which is used to assess properties for environmental contamination, which may lead to the need for cleanup funding.


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