ROCKLAND — The city will receive a $500,000 grant to help clean up a vacant lot that served for nearly 100 years as a junkyard.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced Tuesday, Aug. 2 that Rockland was one of 12 municipalities or organizations to receive grants.

Congresswoman Chellie Pingree, and Maine Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Melanie Loyzim also were in attendance at an event in Portland to announce the  $19.7 million in Brownfields funds .

This is part of a greatly increased Brownfields investment in New England this year made possible by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to revitalize communities across the country by cleaning up contaminated and blighted sites and redeveloping them for productive use, the EPA stated in a news release.

“Hazardous sites not only pose a health danger to Mainers — especially as extreme weather becomes more common — but they also limit important economic activity in our communities,” Congresswoman Pingree stated in the news release. “As Chair of the House Appropriations Subcommittee that oversees funding for the EPA, I’m thrilled to see nearly $14 million coming back to Maine’s First District to help towns and underserved areas mitigate pollution by cleaning up and repurposing contaminated sites to create valued community spaces. Thanks to President Biden, this money from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will make generational investments in each of these towns, creating hundreds of jobs and securing more space for Mainers to create and expand their businesses.”

“We welcome this funding from the EPA’s Brownfields Programs, which will help identify potential hazards and encourage community development across Maine,” said U.S. Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King in a joint statement. “In addition to cleaning up hazardous substances and improving our environment, this investment will help communities create new development opportunities to attract businesses that create good jobs for Mainers.”

The property targeted in Rockland for the cleanup was the home of Ronald and Mona Shafter, as well as the Shafter junkyard. The Shafter junkyard business was founded in 1914 by Ronald Shafter’s grandfather, David Shafter, and operated for nearly 100 years before it closed about a decade ago.

The City expects the project to go out to bid soon. Timing will depend on the contractor selected and their availability.

Rockland Community and Economic Development Director Julie Hashem said the idea is that the cleanup will allow the property to be redeveloped. The City hasn’t yet decided specific uses. She said she expects conversations on that will be held this fall and winter, now that cleanup funds have been secured. City Manager Tom Luttrell noted the city will meet with residents of the neighborhood to get their input.

The city acquired the three contiguous lots on 9-13 Rockland St. in March 2016 for nonpayment of property taxes. The property totals slightly more than a half acre.

City Manager Luttrell said last year without more extensive clean up, the property cannot be used for any residential or commercial development.

The City had considered but rejected last year a proposal to have the property turned into a parking lot to handle overflow traffic from the Maine State Ferry Terminal. Neighbors had voiced opposition to such a proposal.

The city-owned property at 9-13 Rockland St. will be cleaned up from environmental contamination.