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Involvement in Brownfields Redevelopment

2010 November 29

What groups – community, business, government, non-government, or any other type – should be involved when multiple brownfields are being redeveloped in a single community?

EPA has a long record of working with communities and other partners to redevelop brownfields properties in urban areas. Now, EPA has begun the Area-Wide Planning Initiative to coordinate the development of brownfields that are connected by geographic, transportation, or cultural ties. We want to know what groups you think should be involved when multiple brownfields are being redeveloped.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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8 Responses leave one →
  1. Lee Rimer of permalink
    November 29, 2010

    Tribes need to be involved in the Brownsfield development
    issues. Look at what happend with the State of Wa.
    and Port Angelos. They did not work well with the Elwha tribe.
    They tried to have a huge project near tribal lands.
    The State dug up historical tribal lands.
    They did not work well with the tribe.
    That project fell to pieces, and it cost alot of money.
    Brownsfields need to work well with the tribes.

  2. Jessica Brandt of Washington State Department of Ecology permalink
    November 29, 2010

    Washington State in heavy collaboration with Maul Foster Alongi, EnviroIssues and Tacoma Pierce County Health Department, published a Guide to Leveraging Brownfield Redevelopment for Community Revitalization.
    The guide emphasizes how to build capacity, ask the right questions, and focuses on brownfields within an area wide, smart growth and infill context. It is designed to help communities develop approaches to turn apparent liabilities into assets that can be leveraged to meet overall community revitalization goals.
    We’re happy to share! It’s not Washington-specific. http://www.ecy.wa.gov/biblio/1009054.html

  3. Joseph Scarpa, LEED AP, GREEN, EcoBroker of Green Paradigm Realty LLC permalink
    November 30, 2010

    Commercial REALTORS, specialized in commercial sales and development, should be brought in early to help monitor the marketability of the brownfields as they are remediated–or at least the remediation requirement is quantified (quantification of clean-up costs helps reduce uncertainty and brings buyers to the table).

    Commercial REALTORS can give the properties the broadest possible market exposure, rather than the local government relying on its own limited network and ad hoc contacts. Commercial REALTORS can line up potential buyers and coordinate the execution of binding and non-binding agreements to purchase the properties–with and without contingencies from the buyers.

    The local Brownfields redevelopment organization can RFP for a competent real estate broker agency much like they hire any professional services firm or they can have a free-for-all and tell the real estate brokers to arrange for their compensation from the buyers (but then they must require all buyers to bring a real estate broker to the table (so as to maximize the interest of real estate brokers willing to participate as well as keeping a large number of real estate brokers informed)). Either of the above compensation schemas could work whether the properties are publicly or privately owned. Private property owners–as a condition of participation and use of public funds in cleaning their properties–must be required to use the real estate marketing/brokering solution used by the government instrumentality.

  4. Oliver Paladin of permalink
    December 1, 2010

    As you mention in your opening line, EPA’s long record has involved “urban areas”. For rural areas (particularly in the Deep South) where area-wide strategies are the best fit, partnerships begin with the local government leaders. They were elected by their constituents, and they have the tools (zoning, influence, etc.) to make an “area wide” approach work. Add to the equation the Economic/Community Development Organization for the area and the State since the cleanup criteria are the State’s jurisdiction and since the State has the financial incentives to spur private redevelopment and jobs.

    I disagree with the previous pitch for a Commercial Real Estate Broker. “Requiring” a private property owner to use the “real estate marketing/brokering solution” seems to be Kelo-esque in spirit.

  5. Lisa Alexander of Mass DEP permalink
    December 7, 2010

    Although I don’t deal specifically with Brownfields and am not speaking for my agency, I have worked/participated in both a municipal-volunteer energy/community group and in the remediation side of things on behalf of the state, and now some NRD work. It seems to me that there ought to be several levels of involvement at many different stages.
    I have seen successful Brownfields redevelopment where the community needs were considered alongside business/economic needs and multiple levels of win-win solutions were the result. Not everything positive about a town comes from economic development or realtor driven planning – sometimes it’s also an attractive mix of open space or other community friendly space with a combination of business and/or residential is the best use. Mass has many different Brownfields on it’s mass.gov/dep website, open space/parks, art museum, urban greenhouses, solar power facility, others. But in general, Mass is home to many projects not on the website.
    This is a state with a long history of early industrialization and a long history of community involvement and since “green” space AND convenient, friendly urban living are prized by all, there have been many old mills turned into businesses or residences (or mix of both). opening up of riverside parks and walkways/bikeways for all, even as some businesses take up the task of building new spaces, etc. It helps a lot if there is early invitation to the affected community to have a say in what their own needs and long-term wants for their communities are, and to try to build that into the long term decisions.

  6. wynetta wright of The Eastside Environmental Council Inc. permalink
    December 18, 2010

    as a community organizer i think that before all the redevelopment of our communities are planned there should be a better line of coummucation with planning and development and the historic and preservation dept to keep the honor of the people that fought for some of the communites they lived in to make a difference and better the lives of the people who don”t have a voice in the decision being made that will affect them i think if we stop razeing down these resident of past championing for a cause in our community we can bring back a sense of pride and connection back to these communities and have some evidence to show to the youth that there”s a history to where they live and some good in every community and how they can better their life and other”s

  7. John W. Schweizer, P.E. of T3W Business Solutions, Inc. permalink
    December 30, 2010

    A way to improve communications, which Ms. Wynetta Wright points out in her comment above is essential, is to use community involvement tools (websites) as a focal point for input and responses. These tools can be a very effective vehicle for all the stake holders, not just the community, to be informed and to be heard. Improving communications for brownfield projects in mixed use zoning areas seems particularly important because the whole character of a surrounding neighborhood can change, perhaps adversely, if the end use of brownfield properties is planned without community input.
    Such websites are inexpensive to create, and are powerful communication tools. Functionality can include:
    oNotify the South Prescott community of the schedule for lead soil treatment at each residence
    o Provide a vehicle for reporting incidents or problems with the lead soil treatment contractor
    o Provide a blog for the Technical Advisor (TA) to receive questions, post answers, and organize
    technical information.
    – provide notification of the schedule for soil treatment at individual homes, a way for EPA to easily notify residents of changes in the schedule, a way for residents to notify the EPA PM of issues/problems that they experience during soil treatment, provide his comments to the community, organize his reports by category and indexing for easy retrieval, as well as a means for the community to ask questions.

  8. John W. Schweizer, P.E. of T3W Business Solutions, Inc. permalink
    December 30, 2010

    Please disregard my previous comment – I accidently hit the send button while editing my comment with modifications of a document prepared for a community involvement website that was developed for another purpose. I appologize for any confusion this error caused.

    A way to improve communications, which Ms. Wynetta Wright points out in her comment above is essential, is to use community involvement tools (websites) as a focal point for input and responses. These tools can be a very effective vehicle for all the stake holders, not just the community, to be informed and to be heard. Improving communications for brownfield projects in mixed use zoning areas seems particularly important because the whole character of a surrounding neighborhood can change, perhaps adversely, if the end use of brownfield properties is planned without community input.
    Such websites are inexpensive to create, and are powerful communication tools. Functionality can include:
    o Provide indexed information about the development, and organizes the information by category so that items of interest by particular stakeholders are easily retrieved.
    o Provide a blog that receives questions, posts answers, allows for comments from stakeholders and organizes comments and other information by category and by indexing for easy retrieval.
    o Notify the stakeholders of the plans and schedules for development.
    o Provide a vehicle for reporting incidents or problems with contractors during development, and automatically notifies the person(s) who can do something about it. This can be particularly important where developments occur in environmental justice communities.

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