Environmental partnership helps improve access to health care in eastern Connecticut
For almost 140 years, United Community and Family Services has provided a range of health care services to communities in eastern Connecticut and serves more than 20,000 people. With the need for expansion, UCFS was committed to finding another location to serve the town of Griswold. Today, thanks to a grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and support from the state of Connecticut, UCFS has a new facility in Griswold that provides critical health services to the town.
Town officials approached UCFS to consider the former Triangle Wire property for its new facility, which had been abandoned since 1995. The town had taken ownership of the site and had received funding from both EPA and the state to address environmental concerns from its time as a manufacturing facility for more than five decades.
The town received a $200,000 grant from EPA in 2004 to assess the site as a brownfield, a property whose redevelopment might be complicated by the presence of certain types of pollution. After an environmental assessment, the town acquired the property and received a cleanup grant, also for $200,000, from EPA in 2010. This funding, along with funding from the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development, enabled the town to address most of the environmental issues on the property, making it ready for re-use.
In 2014, UCFS acquired the property from the town to create a new public health center. The town and UCFS worked with the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection to enroll the site in the state’s abandoned brownfields cleanup program. That enabled the town to use both state and EPA funding to clean up the site. The new facility has been open since July 2018 and employs close to 40 people.
EPA's investment of $400,000 at this site since 2004 included grants to define the contamination, help determine cleanup parameters and cover some of the cleanup costs. Construction at the site began in July 2017, leveraging almost 200 jobs during the redevelopment.
With the success of this project, UCFS can better serve nearly 20,000 residents of the Griswold area. With significant financial investment in brownfields grant programs at the federal, state and local levels and by the private sector, this project is a great example of how EPA funding can leverage investment to put a formerly contaminated property back to use to benefit a community such as Griswold.
Deb Szaro is the acting regional administrator of the U.S. EPA’s regional office in Boston, which covers the six New England states and tribes in the region. Katie Dykes is the commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.
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