MANCHESTER IS A modern, vibrant city that has been challenged for many years with a population struggling with substance use disorder. Like so many communities that are seeing an increasing need for its substance use disorder treatment services, a collaborative approach that involves the community, state and federal government and private partnerships to tackle these issues. In 2012, the Easter Seals Farnum Center launched a campaign to move its treatment center to a new location, the former Queen City Inn. Thanks to a grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Brownfields program, the new location allowed Farnum Center to expand its mission of helping people address and overcome substance abuse.

Also in 2012, the Queen City Inn site was identified in Manchester’s downtown revitalization plan and targeted for redevelopment. Using a Brownfields grant from EPA, the City of Manchester conducted environmental assessments at the site with oversight from the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services. Two contaminants were found at the site related to historical releases from nearby gas stations. Based on the results of the environmental assessments, the site was able to be sold for cleanup and redevelopment.

A local developer, Anagnost Investments, helped make the treatment center a reality by acquiring the property, funding the cleanup, and redeveloping the site at an investment of almost $4.8 million. The Bishops Charitable Assistance Fund also granted $10,000 toward the redevelopment.

The cleanup involved removal of hazardous building materials, like asbestos and lead. Reusing the existing building and foundation structures reduced costs and yielded 96 construction jobs. The hard work and commitment to the needs of the community resulted in the state’s first non-hospital based medical detoxification unit, doubling the number of beds available to patients. The state-of-the-art treatment facility is located in close proximity to the new Elliot at River’s Edge out-patient facility, also a Brownfields site, which employs more than 100 people.

Farnum’s inpatient residential treatment programs have the capacity to serve 113 adults who have primary substance use disorder. Since 2013, Farnum Center has had almost 22,000 applications submitted for its services. Most importantly, this redevelopment has given a population with substance misuse needs a place to seek treatment. The city has also seen an increase in the tax base and revenues since the property value has increased from $1.6 million to over $2.4 million. This is just one of the hundreds of success stories to come out of EPA’s Brownfields program across the nation, which strives to put contaminated properties back to use for the betterment of communities like Manchester.

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. Robert Scott is the Commissioner of the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services.