James P. Byrne, Project Officer for the USEPA Region 1 Brownfields Team, has been named recipient of the 2014 Brownfield Renewal Person of the Year Award.
Mr. Byrne is the Project Officer for the USEPA Region 1 Brownfields Team. Jim has been working in the environmental field for over 30 years. His experiences include work in the following fields: laboratory, consulting, hazardous waste management for a Fortune 500 corporation & the USEPA. He has held certifications & licenses in wildlife biology, industrial wastewater treatment, asbestos inspection & management/planning & OSHA Health & Safety. For the past 15 years, Jim has worked for the USEPA Region I Brownfields Team as a project officer overseeing assessment, cleanup & revolving loan fund grants in all six New England states. He also serves as the Team's cleanup lead.
What attracted Jim to the Brownfields program was the opportunity to use his knowledge of assessment & cleanup techniques to revitalize underutilized or abandoned sites for economic and/or greenspace reuse. Jim believes partnerships and stakeholder involvement are the keys to successful brownfields cleanup & redevelopment projects. Partnerships between all three levels of government and with the non-profit & private development sectors are incredibly important. Government often provides the seed money in the form of assessment and cleanup funds as well as certain liability protections and assurances, and other incentives (tax credits, etc.) to make the property more attractive to prospective developers. Without the above partnerships, many brownfields projects would never get off the ground. Just as important as the above scenario, no brownfields project can be brought to fruition without a comprehensive stakeholder involvement plan. Community support for the project is crucial!
On a cold, wintry November day, Jim met with the Westmass Economic Development Corporation and the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection in one of the cavernous, cold mill buildings. At this meeting, the plans and visions for the Ludlow Mills redevelopment project were laid out in great detail. Jim quickly recognized the importance and potential of working with this not for profit developer in cleaning up the largest historic mill redevelopment project in New England. It was evident at that time that Westmass was well on its way to forging the partnerships and the stakeholder involvement needed to make this project a success. All they needed was the seed money to get the project moving forward. To that end, EPA Region I committed $231,000 in Targeted Brownfields Assessment funds to assess this 170 acre (66 buildings, 1.5 million sq. ft.) mill in downtown Ludlow, MA. This comprehensive site assessment gave Westmass a clear picture of what they were facing in terms of cleanup. This enabled Westmass, with the support of EPA Region I, MADEP, and the town of Ludlow to prepare a remediation strategy and plan. With this plan in hand, Westmass applied for and has been awarded close to $1.5 million in competitive assessment and cleanup grant funding from EPA and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to bring this phase of the project close to the finish line. As result of this collaborative effort, the cornerstone project, a $28.5 million rehabilitation hospital has been constructed by HealthSouth on a portion of the mill property. This LEED Gold project has not only filled a critical medical need for the region but has both retained & created well paying jobs that benefit the region as well. This is only the first success of many as Westmass continues to redevelop this Mill.
In his spare time, Jim enjoys spending time with his wife MaryBeth, daughter Montana & son Zane in Franklin, Massachusetts. He also enjoys fishing and hunting and is .patched. baseball umpire officiating games from Little League through High School. Jim holds an M.S. in Civil Engineering (Hazardous Materials Management) from Tufts University and a B.S. in Biology (Environmental & Wildlife Concentrations) from Framingham State College.
Thanks to everyone who submitted nominations and voted in our Person of the Year program!