A “brownfield” is a property whose redevelopment is complicated by the presence or potential presence of contamination. Nearly every community in New York State is affected by brownfield sites. Left untouched, brownfields pose environmental, legal and financial burdens on a community and its taxpayers. However, after cleanup, these sites can again become the powerful engines for economic vitality, jobs and community pride that they once were.
Brownfield Opportunity Area
In 2008, the Newtown Creek Alliance, the Greenpoint Manufacturing and Design Center, and Riverkeeper received a Brownfields Opportunity Area (BOA) grant from the New York Dept of State. The BOA program provides funding for community-driven brownfields planning. BOA funds will be used to assess redevelopment opportunities for contaminated sites along the Creek; emphasizing high-performance, environmentally sustainable industrial uses, parks and wetlands reclamation, and improved environmental infrastructure. The study will examine the watershed as a whole in an effort to improve the environmental condition of the land and water.
Establishing a community-led revitalization plan aids in removing environmental hazards from communities, revitalizes communities by creating jobs, and returns property to productive use and to local tax rolls. An additional advantage of a community-based approach is that community members have a direct role in determining how affected properties can be cleaned up and redeveloped to best facilitate the community’s future development plans. Projects located within the BOA can receive priority and preference when considered for financial assistance under some state, federal, or local programs and may receive preference in infrastructure improvements. A BOA designation also attracts redevelopment interest because of the community support that underlies a BOA plan.
The goals of the BOA Program include:
• Assessing the full range of community problems posed by multiple brownfield sites;
• Building a shared vision and consensus on the future uses of strategic brownfield sites;
• Coordinating and collaborating with local, state, and federal agencies, community groups and private-sector partners; and
• Developing public-private sector partnerships necessary to leverage investment in development projects that can revitalize diverse local communities and neighborhoods.