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Revitalizing Communities

2012 July 26

Many communities have been hit hard by auto sector and other manufacturing industry closures and bankruptcies. EPA, the Department of Labor (DOL) and other organizations are working to assist these communities with their revitalization efforts.  With this in mind, what are the critical first steps needed to promote revitalization, as you see them, and how can EPA help mobilize its federal, state, and local partners to help you begin to take them?

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations 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.

5 Responses leave one →
  1. Darsi Foss permalink
    July 27, 2012

    My opinion on the top 10 things the federal government can do:

    1. Provide non-competitive brownfields assessment grants to those communities to complete the site investigations at these properties.
    2. Assign EPA staff person to assist those communities for a one-or-two-year period.
    3. Make non-competitive clean up funds available for those sites in quantities that will get the site cleaned up. ($200,000 at a $5M clean up doesn’t go too far)
    4. Remove all federal and Canadian liens from these properties.
    5. Allow the local government to take title with no CERCLA, RCRA or TSCA liability; but provide them money to deal with the issues regardless.
    6. Don’t assume that these properties will be worth anything; allow local governments that own the properties to keep the sale proceeds.
    7. Require EPA program staff to visit these sites if they have money invested or not, to see the magnitude of the environmental, health, economic and social issues.
    8. Make the money simpler to use.
    9. Get rid of the match requirement for the clean up money.
    10. Write clear assurance/comfort letters to local governments and purchasers that have some defensibility.

    When we get the properties ready for reuse, then we can mobilize our other partners (e.g., workforce development, housing, economic development, etc).

  2. July 27, 2012

    One of the downsizing industrial sectors proving challenging in Ohio is coal. Among the things the federal government could do would be to offer a variety of incentives to help communities to repurpose coal mines that have been closed (beyond remediation, the presence of underground shafts makes sites unsound for development) and to offer financial assistance – tax credit? – for companies seeking to convert coal-fired power plants to “cleaner” energy sources such as natural gas and renewables.

  3. Clay G. Colson permalink
    July 27, 2012

    Revitalization is easily attainable with the revival of the WPA and CCC, 2 time tested and proven programs which will not only put folks back to work but will stimulate the economy at all levels while rebuilding our crumbling infrastrucure throughout the United States. http://www.facebook.com/groups/315650290291/ This is not rocket science just a lack of political will from our elected meatheads.

  4. gregawsimo permalink
    July 27, 2012

    To revive a community it takes a community

    Community involvement can develop sustainable Food Production, Drinkable Water, Efficient Homes and Energy Production at the economically affordable price of Free.

    Based on the concept that grants would fund the development with the work of volunteers, subsidized by unemployment to learn how to construct and maintain a renewable energy foundation.

    Hydrogen, Gas, Biomass, Wind, Solar and Geothermal can be utilized on old Industrial Waste Land to produce Clean Energy locally with the idea in mind that all is free.

    Maintenance can be provided by educational learning, land would become public sites for the public good with just compensation by the State to revive the Community.

    Many Goods can be assembled locally to ensure entrepreneurs have the possibility to create start up ventures resulting in the ultimate goal of revenue generation and specialized job creation.

  5. August 1, 2012

    As the Mayor of the City of Flint, I participated in one of the roundtables today with EPA, HUD, MAC, and other federal partners. Flint has a large number of brownfields that were former automotive sites. I think the first point that has to be recognized is that former auto sites are often large in terms of acreage and often located in areas with weaker markets for industrial and commercial property. From our experience, EPA needs to be willing to apply RCRA in creative ways, such as splitting the site into component parts for cleanup purposes so as to align with likely reuse patterns. There may be portions of sites that are not likely to be redeveloped with high-value economic activity and, in this case, funds should be made available for ecological restoration that goes beyond normal cleanup activities. I am interested in what others are saying here too and look forward to the discussion.

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