Transcript of "Building Vibrant Communities: Community Benefits of Land Revitalization"
B U I L D I N G V I B R A N T C O M M U N I T I E S: COMMUNITY BENEFITS OF LAND REVITALIZATION 1
Foreword In 1993, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency partners, who we highlight throughout the report. (EPA) launched a small pilot program called The purpose of this report is to help us all rethink, “brownfields” with an initial grant of $200,000 to make new connections, and broaden our idea of the Cuyahoga County, Ohio. Through this pilot, a seven resources available to clean up brownfields properties, acre site was assessed and cleaned up, 141 jobs revitalize our communities, create new economic were created, and two sites were created for healthy opportunities, and improve our nation’s environment new businesses. It also sparked a movement to clean and health.In 1998, EPA awarded its first Brownfields up and redevelop idled, underused, abandoned, andJob Training grants. JFYNetWorks in Boston, vacant properties throughout the country. I understand that in today’s economic conditions,Massachusetts, used this funding to train brownfield tools are needed more than ever tocommunity members to become environmentaltechnicians. Today, the EPA Brownfields Program has changed the clean up and redevelop brownfield properties for landscape of America’s communities and transformed sustainable uses that create local jobs. EPA has to once vacant properties into beacons of hope for many meet that challenge by working and listening to local economically disadvantaged neighborhoods.To date, communities, fostering public-private partnerships, the program has provided more than 2,500 grants and providing flexibility in our resources. I look to totaling more than $600 million in direct funding you to challenge us as to how EPA and the Federal to communities, which leveraged an additional Government can assist you to help revitalize local $12 billion from other sources to assess, clean up communities. and reuse brownfields. This investment has yielded more than 54,000 jobs – many in disadvantaged Mathy Stanislaus communities. While these statistics are impressive, EPA Assistant Administrator for Solid Waste and there is also a broad range of additional community- Emergency Response wide benefits that can result from the redevelopment and reuse of brownfield properties. This report highlights these other community benefits and potential redevelopment opportunities to create more vibrant, healthy, safe, and sustainable communities. Specifically, the report highlights Prepared under: the potential use of brownfields for agriculture and Contract No. EP-W-07-023 food systems, arts and culture, housing and mixed uses, and other community and civic uses such as Prepared for: greenspace, schools, and health care facilities. Of U.S. Environmental Protection Agency course, these benefits and the Brownfields Program Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response itself could not occur without our numerous federal, Office of Brownfields and Land Revitalization state, municipal, nonprofit, and private sector Washington, D.C. 20460
Introduction “A brownfield is a grainAn abandoned factory, a boarded up corner gas Brownfields revitalization has been successful—notstation, a run down mill. In communities across the just at individual properties, but block-by-block and of sand around whichcountry, we see brownfields of every shape and size. beyond. There are hundreds of examples where the the pearl ofIt is hard to miss the graffiti-laced walls, the broken clearing of environmental concerns at one distressed community develops.”windows, the caved in roofs. It is equally hard to property paved the way for the property to return todismiss the unknown environmental contaminants productive reuse. We see dozens of examples where Clark Henry – Brownfields Coordinator,and health hazards brownfields can pose. blight is reversed with regeneration—where one City of Portland, Oregon property’s reuse spurs community-wide revitalization.Degradation often spreads beyond the boundary of Sidewalks and streets are improved. Trees and flowersone property to blight an entire neighborhood or are planted. New lighting is installed. A communitycommunity. Surrounding streets become stagnant center gets refurbished. Businesses and residentsand unsafe. Concerns about safety and crime return to the area. The ripple effects can spreadrates increase. Residents and businesses move through the community—fear and crime rates fall,out. Property values decline. Retirees, residents, access to services and healthcare improves, propertybusiness owners, and employees that remain behind values increase, a tax base is restored.may need to go further to access goods or services.The inspiration and creativity that formed the What is it that distinguishes one property cleanupneighborhood’s original vibrancy can fade away. and reuse success from another, and what stimulates change well beyond its original property lines?Fortunately, more than two decades ago, civic leaders What creates a safer environment and an economicbegan working to reclaim their communities. The resurgence while creating a healthier and morenation embarked on an experiment in environmental sustainable community? Answering those questions is Redevelopment is underway at Portland,protection, involving aspects of environmental justice Oregon’s South Waterfront the next part of the brownfields experiment. Will youand economic development, to address the growing be one of the next generation of brownfield leaders?challenge of cleaning up and revitalizing brownfieldproperties. Environmental justice advocates and We hope this report motivates and inspires citizens,citizen groups rallied to reverse the decline of developers, urban planners, non-governmentalneighborhoods. Cities, states, nonprofit organizations organization (NGO) leaders, academics, policyand tribal nations responded, and public and private makers, business owners, and communitydevelopers saw a market opportunity. EPA began a development, environmental, and health officialspilot program to provide seed money to catalyze this to explore the possibilities. This report highlightsmovement, and other federal agencies retooled their the important, yet sometimes less tangible benefitsfunding and assistance to aid the cause. that brownfields redevelopment can bring to your community. iii
Introduction continued... This report provides only a small sampling of the Join those communities that have reinvigorated many brownfield community collaborations— their land and built vibrant, healthy, sustainable through case studies and several anecdotal stories communities. as well as photos and external research—to give you a sense of what is possible. We provide resource links and information about innovative partnerships to spur your imagination. In addition to supporting and becoming involved in brownfields revitalization, you can strengthen your community right now by doing the following: • Participate in a community garden • Use public transportation • Volunteer with a local organization • Celebrate your community’s history • Improve your home’s curb appeal • Work with community leaders on a • Start a new business blighted property • Support your local farmers market • Speak up for your neighborhood • Meet your neighbors • Save a historic building • Organize social activities on your street • Help to create community greenspace • Attend community events and meetings • Participate in cultural activities • Walk to your local park • Support activities at local schoolsiv
1. Successful Brownfields Redevelopment A brownfield is a property affected by real or perceived contamination that inhibitsBrownfield properties are diverse. They come in all As shown in Figure 1, approximately 2,500 grants redevelopment.sizes—from a fraction of an acre to hundreds of have been awarded across the country since 1995.acres. They are located in urban, suburban and rural In addition, these grants total more than $600 Land revitalization refers to the processlocations. Some properties may have little to no million in direct funding to communities, enabling of assessing a property for contamination, cleaning up contamination (if found), andcontamination, while others require cleanup to ensure these communities to leverage an additional $12 returning the property to productive use.protection of the community and environmental billion from other sources to assess, clean up andhealth. Contamination at these properties—whether reuse brownfields.perceived or actual—can cause them to lay idle,underused, abandoned or vacant; this can lead In addition to the funding and support provided EPA’s Brownfields Program has enabled:to blight and disinvestment in neighborhoods or by EPA’s Brownfields Program, there are numerouscommunities. state, tribal, local, private and nonprofit partners • Assessment of more than 14,000 properties that provide funding and technical support to assess, • Cleanup of nearly 400 propertiesThis section provides a brief overview of the U.S. clean up and revitalize brownfield properties. • Creation of more than 54,000 jobsEPA’s Office of Brownfields and Land Revitalization • Employment of 3,300 Job Training (OBLR) Brownfields Program and the broader graduates2community benefits that can occur from brownfieldsrevitalization. This section also highlights the Data current as of 8/24/2009importance of community involvement and EPA Brownfields Program Grantsincorporating elements of sustainability to ensurethese broader community benefits. 3,000 2,500 2,000EPA Brownfields Program 1,500 GrantsIn many cases, brownfield properties remain vacant 1,000or idle because of a lack of funding to assess or 500 Fundingclean up the property. In response, EPA’s OBLR 0 ($M illions)provides grants to communities, states and tribes to 2009 2003 2005 2007 1995 1997 1999 2001assess and clean up brownfields. OBLR also providesgrants to train local residents in the technical skillsnecessary to become environmental professionals Figure 1: Since 1995, the number of Brownfieldsthat obtain jobs in local brownfields redevelopment grants awarded yearly has increased tenfold.1projects near them. 1
As shown in Figure 2, the EPA Brownfields Program Engaging Communities “It offers a sense of and its partners have leveraged almost $12 billion and created 54,000 jobs. Brownfield projects that receive government funding community pride... require public notice and community involvement. if people feel they These communities reach out to and involve have some input and EPA Brownfields Grants stakeholders before, during and after receiving control in a project Leverage Jobs and Funding funding to ensure success. Community members and local stakeholders can learn, share information and like this, that is 60,000 shape brownfields cleanup and redevelopment while planting a seed for 50,000 also fostering a new generation of community leaders.ownership in the future.” 40,000 By creating a dialogue among all stakeholders in a brownfields project, community engagement Tito Molino – West End Community 30,000 Development Council, enhances the final reuse of the property and the Jobs Bridgeport, Connecticut 20,000 long-term success of the project. Individuals and organizations also build lasting working relationships 10,000 Funding and stronger community ties. EPA also recognizes 0 ($Millions) that community engagement is a vital process to help alleviate environmental justice concerns for citizens 1997 1999 2001 2003 2005 2007 2009 in economically disadvantaged areas and give them a voice in their community’s future. Figure 2: As more brownfields are redeveloped, more jobs are created for the community.3 Early community engagement may also identify reuses preferred by local stakeholders to fill key Working together, brownfields revitalization partners market gaps or provide needed services. For example, across the country have made a substantial impact residents may identify vital, but overlooked, services in terms of dollars invested and leveraged, properties in the community—such as a full service grocery cleaned up and jobs created. store, park, bank, senior housing or pharmacy that may not otherwise be developed. In addition to these measures of success, a variety of broader community beliefs have been realized. Often, Successful community engagement results in these benefits are linked to brownfields revitalization stakeholders identifying new ideas that gain projects that successfully engage participation of community support, minimize conflict and reduce the community before and during the redevelopment delays in project completion. All these factors can process. save time and money for the property owner and developer, and assure the long-term success of the project for the entire community. 2
Participating in the local decision–making process support their project. This builds civic capacity andempowers and inspires residents to continue helps strengthen bonds among neighbors, creating a U.S. EPA CARE Programtheir public participation and address issues in more tightly knit community.their community beyond the original brownfields EPA’s CARE Program helps toproject. A community’s youth is often a huge This increased civic capacity provides the develop community based solutionssource of untapped creativity that may provide a groundwork for future neighborhood collaboration to environmental issues. CARE grant recipients engage all members of thefresh perspective on ways to address brownfields. and revitalization of the community. Learning about community and create local partnershipsFor example, the Girl Scouts of Nassau County, and participating in local decision making can to access a broad range of viewpoints andNew York developed the Brownfields Buster patch, inspire residents to remain engaged and address services so that the entire communitywhich is earned by learning about brownfields in the other important issues in their community. decides how best to deal with itscommunity and suggesting ideas for redevelopment. environmental issues. Find out more at www.epa.gov/care.Youth involvement and engagement can also create a The following case study of Market Creek Plaza innew generation of community leaders. San Diego, California highlights a highly innovative community engagement process that included aThe brownfields redevelopment process allows public, community development initial public offering.community and private sector stakeholders to forgenew partnerships, and access new resources to Community engagement experts recommend that the process: Through the CARE Program in Marquette, Michigan, volunteers collect e-waste to prevent • Include the promise that the public’s contribution improper disposal or dumping will influence the decision • Communicate the interests and meets the process needs of all participants • Seek out and facilitate the involvement of those potentially affected • Involve participants in defining how they participate • Provide participants with the information they need to participate in a meaningful way The more people and viewpoints represented in the • Communicate to participants how their input brownfields redevelopment process, the more information communities have to identify the best property reuse. At affected the decision4 a Greensburg, Kansas, design charrette, residents work together to develop a site plan. 3
To find tools for public involvement, Case Study: Market Creek Plaza - San Diego, CAvisit www.epa.gov/publicinvovlement/ Neighborhood group develops model for community ownership of neighborhood assetsInvolvement.htm. In an area once known as the ‘Four The Community-Development InitialFor more information about the Jacobs Corners of Death’ in the distressed Public Offering (CD-IPO) was launched in Diamond Neighborhoods of San 2006, making it possible for community BenefitsCenter for Neighborhood Innovation, visit Diego, California, an abandoned residents to purchase ownership shares inwww.jacobscenter.org, and for more Market Creek Partners, LLC. To date, the aerospace factory was transformed • Involved 3,000 adults information about the project, go to www. into a community hub called Market community owns 40 percent of Market and youth and eightmarketcreekplaza.com. Creek Plaza. This mixed use center Creek Partners, LLC; the ultimate goal is design teams in the has become a community focal point, for 100 percent community ownership planning process incorporating cultural traditions, arts of this project. Owning a part of this and entertainment—with a grocery store, innovative project generated a sense of • Filled cultural, retail and restaurants, retail shops and essential pride and accomplishment throughout the grocery market gaps services. community. • Awarded $7.9 million A major component of the project’s The reuse of this brownfield strengthened dollars in contracts to success was its in-depth community community ties and established Market minority- or women- engagement process. Resident working Creek Plaza as a community gathering owned businesses teams partnered with the Jacobs Center place where neighbors can meet and enjoy for Neighborhood Innovation to plan, the fruits of their labor. Market Creek Plaza • 415 community design, build, lease and now own and is now a catalyst for local involvement and members and operate the Plaza. Planning began with other redevelopment projects. This process organizations now own a 800 neighborhood surveys, numerous serves as a model for other communities part of the development living room meetings, and several and demonstrates the value of partnershipNeighbors attend a Market Creek community forums to assess what the and the power of eliminating blight to • Created 200 new jobs; planning meeting community needed. Top on the list was transform a neighborhood. 70 percent of them filled a major chain grocery store, followed by by residents restaurants, entertainment and living- wage jobs. • Restored 1,400 linear feet of wetlands Local residents participated in eight working teams to influence all elements • Generated $42 million of the project, from community outreach in economic activity in to building design. Residents were in 2008 charge of developing and implementing outreach and communication strategies. • Paid a full 10 percent This helped build capacity among annual return to Diamond resident leaders as they mobilized the Community Investors in larger community to participate in the 2007 and 2008 process. 4
Enhancing Sustainability For more information on the SustainableEPA supports innovative projects that incorporate is cleaned up. Property that was previously Sites Initiative, please go to their Web site at www.sustainablesites.org.sustainability into brownfields cleanup and underutilized due to the perception or existenceredevelopment. Sustainability is often defined of contamination is restored to a higher and betteras meeting the needs of the present without use. And greenfields that may otherwise havecompromising the ability of future generations to been developed are left untouched. There are alsomeet their own needs.5 However, since the late approaches that can be integrated into brownfields1980s, human resource use has exceeded the earth’s revitalization to improve sustainability.capacity to regenerate those resources.6 This meansthat globally, we are compromising the ability of Many brownfields partners and other organizationsfuture generations to meet their needs. provide technical assistance and guidelines to promote more sustainable designs and featuresTo reverse this trend and live sustainably, we must into redevelopment projects. For example, thereduce our impact on the environment, even as Sustainable Sites Initiative is a joint effort bywe improve our social and economic conditions. the American Society of Landscape Architects,While this may be challenging, it is helpful to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center and thethink of sustainability as a process and not as an United States Botanic Garden that establishes aendpoint. Many individual decisions to enhance set of guiding principles for sustainability.7 Thissustainability will combine to reduce our impact on framework helps to show sustainability as a process At community gardens across the country, rain catchers improve stormwater managementthe environment and benefit the entire community. for enhancing human welfare while reducing harmful and double as public art. At one communityThe case studies presented throughout this report effects to the environment. garden, children help to install a rain catchmenthighlight sustainable features incorporated into each structure.property’s redevelopment. Many communities across the country revitalize Photo courtesy of Ashley Kyber brownfields to remove environmental contaminationCleaning up and revitalizing brownfields inherently and contribute to long-term sustainability. Someenhances sustainability. Through brownfields communities have made their cleanup process morerevitalization, property that was once contaminated sustainable by reusing and recycling construction 5
and demolition materials, while others make the • Reusing existing buildings, infrastructure, fixturesDid you know? property’s reuse sustainable by constructing green, and equipment energy efficient buildings. In 2008, EPA initiated • Using renewable and recyclable constructionGreenfields and undeveloped land serve 16 Brownfields Sustainability Pilots to explore ways materialsas a carbon sink, offsetting more than 10 to enhance sustainability by providing technical • Building new structures or retrofitting existingpercent of our nation’s greenhouse gasemissions. Protecting these areas through assistance for achieving greener assessment, structures to be energy and water efficient,brownfields redevelopment is critical for cleanup and redevelopment approaches to these 16 such as those that are Leadership in Energyaddressing and responding to climate communities across the country. and Environmental Design (LEED®) or ENERGYchange.8 STAR® certified There are many ways to enhance sustainability during • Integrating green roofs the brownfield revitalization process: • Improving stormwater management through green infrastructure • Green remediation practices that maximize the • Integrating native landscaping net environmental benefit of the cleanup • Utilizing the property for environmentally • Comprehensive site planning that considers the focused reuses such as transportation oriented best use for the property, given its location and development, renewable energy generation, condition wetlands preservation or organic farming • Recycling construction and demolition debrisBuilt on a former brownfield in Newark, EPA Brownfields Sustainability Pilot Profile:California, Ohlone College Newark Center Houston, Texas - Solar Energy and Green Jobsfor Health Sciences and Technology usessustainable elements such as photovoltaic solar The City of Houston’s EPA Sustainability Pilot helpedpanels, geothermal heating and cooling, and the city transform a former 300-acre landfill into arecycled materials in its eco-friendly campus solar power farm. Not only will this transformation remove blight in a neighborhood just 10 minutes from downtown Houston, it will revitalize the area, meet a portion of the city’s electrical needs, and bring new green jobs. EPA provided a technical, regulatory, and financial analysis of this planned project, which showed the solar farm to be technically and environmentally feasible. This analysis will help Houston make the landfill redevelopment project as sustainable as possible when creating and operating the renewable energy facility. To see how these practices can be translated to your community, visit www.epa.gov/brownfields/sustain_plts/index.htm. The proposed solar farm Photo from Google maps 6
Community Benefits “To go fast, go alone.As a brownfield is revitalized, a variety of benefits and neighborhood infrastructure. Figure 3 showscan be realized throughout a community. A ripple how the ripple effect from brownfield revitalization To go far, go together.”effect can occur that brings community benefits becomes a catalyst to spread community benefits beyond the original cleanup and property. African Proverbfor health, the environment, the local economy, acommunity’s civic capacity, neighborhood identity, Community Benefits of Brownfield Revitalization: A Ripple Effect In St. Paul, Minnesota, the immigrant Hmong community celebrates the groundbreaking of a Hmong funeral home on a former brownfield. A funeral is one of the most sacred traditional rites in Hmong culture, and this redevelopment project provides the community a place to honor its culture and heritage.Figure 3: The ripple effect of brownfields investment: Communities use brownfields funding to assess andclean up their properties if needed. Through the property’s revitalization, jobs may be created, contaminationmay be reduced, blight may be removed, surrounding property values may increase. This may cause a rippleeffect of additional community benefits. 7
trees can reduce energy demand and heat island Health and effects while improving stormwater management and reducing certain air pollutants. Environmental Benefits • Using sustainable construction techniques, equipment or materials to reduce material consumption, water and energy use also improves Cleaning up a contaminated site reduces exposure the community’s environmental health. to contaminants not just onsite, but also offsite by halting the migration of contamination into nearby • Health can be improved if a walking trail, air, soil and water. To date, nearly 400 properties supermarket or community health clinic is located have been cleaned up using EPA Brownfields funding, on a former brownfield site; this can improveFrom brownfields to soccer fields - Atlanta helping to improve the health of the surrounding access to exercise, fresh food or health care andyouth have a new place to exercise. Photo after(above) and before (below) redevelopment. communities and environment.9 The following services that may not have previously existed. highlights the many health and environmental • Turning a former brownfield into some form of benefits that are associated with brownfields projects: greenspace—such as restored habitat, wetlands, • Exposure to contamination is reduced or parks, forests or trails—can improve the aesthetics eliminated. of the area as well as physical and mental health. Residents can have a place for physical movement • Brownfields reuse is a proven smart growth and access to nature, which provides them with approach that has been linked with a reduction in physical and mental health benefits. vehicle miles traveled which in turn improves air quality and reduces associated health risks such • Planting gardens provides access to healthy as asthma.10 Reusing a brownfield in an area with food and reduces stress as they provide a calm, existing development can enhance neighborhood restorative feeling shown to improve health.11 walkability by providing additional services close These less tangible quality of life characteristics to other amenities. are often what define a community as a great place to live. • Reusing brownfield property also eases development pressure on greenfields, which are • Planting trees can improve the feel of critical for maintaining healthy watersheds and communities while absorbing and sequestering providing forestry products. carbon, regulating temperature, and absorbing rain or snow to reduce runoff.12 Trees provide shade for • Pedestrian-friendly developments provide places buildings during the summer, which can reduce for residents to interact, enjoy the outdoors and energy bills by 15 to 35 percent compared to exercise. streets that are not shaded.13 • Sustainable redevelopment projects that include a green building, permeable pavement, or additional 8
• Certain types of brownfield reuse can also create green jobs. Architecture, design, engineering, Green jobs are positions in agriculture, Economic Benefits construction, agriculture-related, renewable manufacturing, research and development, energy manufacturing, environmental services and administrative, and service activities aimed at alleviating the myriad environmental consulting, and energy efficiency companies that threats faced by humanity.16 Jobs locate on a former brownfield can all provide green associated with brownfield revitalizationBrownfields cleanup and redevelopment is a primary jobs. (e.g., assessment and/or cleanup) aredriver for attracting investment and business to considered green jobs, as are the jobscommunities that may otherwise be overlooked. With created through the site’s reuse if they are • All types of new jobs create a multiplier effect:environmental uncertainties addressed, property aimed at addressing environmental threats. workers spend more money in the area in whichowners face reduced liability and new incentives they work, further boosting the local economy.for property redevelopment. The successful In addition, numerous studies have shown thetransformation of one property may encourage direct link between property improvement and theinterest and development in the surrounding area. increase in surrounding property values.15 Those who have been invested in the neighborhood forBrownfields redevelopment also demonstrates years can benefit as their homes and businessessignificant potential to generate new green jobs for increase in value. As property values and incomesenvironmental professionals who assess and clean up increase, the local tax base likewise increases,properties. EPA’s investment in communities through potentially translating into improved services forits Brownfields grants helped to leverage more than the community.54,000 jobs related to property assessment, cleanupand reuse.14 The following highlights many of theother economic benefits associated with brownfields Capacity Buildingprojects: Benefits Residents participate in a Winston-Salem, North Carolina Job Training Program funded by an EPA• Some types of brownfield reuse can create jobs Brownfields grant that increase local income and decrease poverty Enhancing the capacity building of individuals and Photo courtesy of Tim Brinkley rates in the surrounding area, thus providing public, nonprofit and private organizations provides financial stability to residents. For example, long-term benefits to the community beyond a single the Johnstown, Pennsylvania Redevelopment brownfield project. Improving social connectivity Authority used its EPA Brownfields Assessment gives neighbors the chance to get to know one grant to transform a former automotive part store another and lays the foundation for future local into a bioscience facility, creating 27 new well- collaboration. Many of these benefits have already paying jobs. Johnstown has been successful in been described on pages two through four of this transforming additional neighboring properties into report. Other benefits include: productive reuses, restoring an entire area and bringing clean industry and jobs back to the city. • Opportunities to foster environmental justice 9
by leveraging new investment and jobs in achievement, civic participation and well-being.Community capacity building provides an distressed communities. It also improves the local Brownfields often provide ideal locations toopportunity for all people, regardless of environment and provides a stronger degree of integrate housing options close to other services,culture or income, to have equal access protection from environmental and health hazards. which helps reduce vacancies, improve health andto the decision making process. strengthen neighborhoods. Redevelopment also • Some brownfields redevelopments can provide Engaged communities build the social provides housing opportunities for those providing opportunities for enhanced education. In Shelby,capital to: local goods or services such as teachers, police Montana, a Brownfields Cleanup grant will allow • Reduce crime officers or nurses. • Improve public health a former high school to be redeveloped as a • Improve educational opportunities community center, giving residents a place for • Residential development that is coupled with • Promote prosperity and economic social interaction and education. The basement growth17 public open spaces (e.g., parks, plazas) provides of the building will also serve as a Head Start an opportunity for residents to socialize and share and alternative adult education facility to serve a information and learn about their community. wide range of educational needs. Those who are Simple landscape and building improvements educated and better informed are then able to beautify a neighborhood, generate resident pride contribute back to their community. and make it a more attractive destination for activity and entertainment. Neighborhood Benefits • Decreasing blight and increasing social connections can help improve community safety; there are fewer abandoned buildings where crime The redevelopment of a single brownfield property can take place and there is more monitoring by may be what a community needs to revitalize an those who feel connected to and invested in their entire neighborhood. Physical improvements to a neighborhood.In Greensburg, Kansas, residents plan their redeveloped brownfield property can help redefine anew green city after it was destroyed by atornado neighborhood and re-establish a sense of place. In some cases, brownfields redevelopment can prompt Greensburg, Kansas: Linking Disaster Recovery neighbors to improve their properties and create a and Sustainable Planning positive ripple effect throughout community. Other The City of Greensburg, Kansas (population 1,500) and neighborhood benefits include: Kiowa County were destroyed by a tornado in 2007. Since this tragedy, the state and local government are rebuilding a more sustainable future for the community. As the • Providing market-rate and/or affordable housing community is being reconstructed as a LEED® Platinum City, the entire neighborhood is being revitalized. Learning is crucial to ensuring a stable, healthy and from this example, other communities are linking disaster accessible community. Brownfields redevelopment recovery efforts with the need to create more sustainable has been linked with increased rates of home communities, including several in Iowa and others in Texas impacted by flooding, hurricanes and extreme weather ownership, which has, in turn, been linked to an events. increase in characteristics such as educational 10
2. Brownfields Reuse Creates Community Benefits EPA Brownfields-funded agriculture projects include:Turning an underused property into a community The rising environmental movement in the 1960sasset creates a range of health, environmental and and 1970s saw the beginnings of small localized • Bellow Falls, VT, Farmers Market • Glens Falls, NY, Farmers Marketeconomic benefits. efforts to promote healthy, sustainable, locally grown • New Britain, CT, Urban Farm and organic foods. Many people rediscovered the • Sacramento, CA, Community GardenThis section of the report highlights four major environmental benefits of smaller sustainable farms, • Saginaw, MI, Farmers Marketbrownfield reuse themes that provide widespread organic farming and local gardens. The recent energybenefits to communities. These four categories are: crises also highlight the connection between foodagriculture and food system uses, arts and culture prices and fuel prices because of the fertilizers,uses, housing and mixed uses, and community and pesticides, energy intensive farm equipment, andcivic uses. Case studies for each of these reuses food transportation system needed to support large-illustrate many of the community benefits, and scale agriculture. Today’s agriculture and food systemexamples of organizations or resources that can accounts for approximately 19 percent of all fossilenhance brownfields cleanup and revitalization energy used in the United States.18projects are also highlighted. The growing awareness of sustainability and healthier foods has piqued public interest and created a desire Agriculture and Food to integrate food systems and agriculture back into local communities. This interest is reflected in the Farmers Market in Bellows Falls, Vermont System Uses rising demand for land in urban areas to support local food production, community supported agriculture (CSA) and farmers markets. This movement toPerhaps nothing connects us more to our local support and strengthen local farms and reintroduceenvironment, the seasons and our community than food production into neighborhoods providesthe food we prepare and eat daily. Agriculture and increased demand for land near populated areas.food systems have long played a dominant role in Brownfields redevelopment is a prime opportunity toshaping our economy, job opportunities, energy use support agriculture and food systems because manyand where we live. brownfields are small parcels of land within urban areas that can be used as community food or flowerThe emergence of an industrial and manufacturing gardens, urban farms and farmers markets.economy caused dramatic demographic shifts as jobswere created in urban areas. During the post World The need for locally produced food may beWar II economic boom, the number of smaller farms particularly pressing in “food deserts,” wheredeclined greatly as large-scale industrial agricultural physical or economic barriers prevent access tomet an increasing demand to boost crop yields for healthy food.20 In these areas, there are often noexpanding domestic and export markets. full service grocery stores and few healthy food 11
choices available to residents. Figure 4 tracks EPA Farming helped turn vacant land into gardens. AfterDid you know? Brownfields, Superfund, Resources Conservation testing the soil to ensure there was no contamination,• Food transportation costs add $113 and Recovery Act (RCRA), and Landfill Methane the Linwood and Gladstone Garden, one of the billion to the cost of U.S. food. Outreach Program sites against food deserts in the largest community gardens in the city, was planted• 120 million tons of carbon dioxide are City of Baltimore that could be potentially used for and is maintained by local volunteers to provide free emitted from transportation of U.S. food food production projects. Several EPA Brownfields vegetables to community members and local food annually.19 grantees used grant monies to assess and clean up banks.• Developing local food, including those properties for use as farmers markets or community There are countless additional examples throughout on former brownfields, reduces the gardens. the country of reusing properties to grow and provide environmental impacts from long Across the country, there are many organizations better access for residents to acquire food locally. distance transportation of food. working to provide access to locally grown food. Another example, “Plant a Row for the Hungry,”22 In Detroit, Michigan, an organization called Urban is one of many efforts to enlist home gardeners in growing additional vegetables for donation to the local EPA-Tracked Sites Present Opportunities food bank. to Address Food Deserts While not every property may be suitable for an agricultural or food systems reuse, many small I-83 urban parcels can serve as community food or flower gardens, urban farms, farmers markets, and provide additional environmental benefits. The following case studies illustrate that brownfields can help improve ! ! the health of a community. ! ! ! ! ! ! I-95 ! ! Soil Sampling is Critical in Food Production Projects ! ! ! ! ! ! All projects involving food production and gardening 895 should conduct Phase I environmental site assessments, ! ! soil sampling, and testing before planting. Tests for pH, ! organic content and key nutrients are needed as well Food Deserts* ! as potential environmental contaminants. Alternatively, Unpopulated Areas and Parks ! ! ! urban and brownfield gardeners may wish to grow above EPA-Tracked Sites ± ground hydroponically or in greenhouses. 0 0.5 1 2 3 4 Major Highways ! Miles It is important to ensure that soils are not only safe, but adequate for growing. Soils can be reconditioned for food production through the addition of organic Figure 4: In Baltimore, Maryland, many EPA- materials, leaf mulch, or food waste compost to increase tracked sites are located in or nearby food deserts. water absorption for better stormwater management soil Redeveloping these sites for a food production or biodiversity, and carbon sequestration. sale may allieviate food desert conditions.21 12
Case Study: Urban Oaks Organic Farm - New Britain, CTUrban farm helps to create a safe, livable community “Shopping at Urban Oaks is a social thing. Urban Oaks is likeThe City of New Britain, Connecticut, a scene from decades ago, thelaid the foundation for transformingone of its poorest, most dangerous customers know all the farmers,neighborhoods by revitalizing a everyone greets each other, andbrownfield as an urban farm and the food is fresh and chemicalcommunity garden. Urban OaksOrganic Farm, one of the first urban free—besides, I like supportingorganic farms in the United States the local economy.”and the largest urban organic farm inthe Northeast, was developed in theviolent crime-ridden North Oak Street Local resident andNeighborhood. patron of Urban OaksIn 1997, an EPA BrownfieldsAssessment grant and an EPA Cleanupgrant in 2003 provided the initialfinancial backing to assess and clean space, tools, seeds, water and visit a neighbor.” This multi-yearup the three-acre urban brownfield technical assistance are all provided brownfields revitalization projectproperty. In addition to the EPA at no cost to gardeners. These helped restore the fabric of the cityfunding, the project used funds from activities provide unique educational and improve local safety.the U.S. Department of Housing andUrban Development, the Connecticut opportunities for underserved innerDepartment of Economic and city residents to learn about farming and gardening techniques. BenefitsCommunity Development, the City of • Cleaned up a three-acre New Britain, and local foundations. New Britain Chief of Police and urban brownfieldThe farm serves as a source of life-long resident, William Gagliardi,employment for the local community— explained that, “prior to the cleanup • Provides walking access many of the farm’s six full-time and and redevelopment of the urban to affordable, locallyten part-time employees are residents brownfields located within the North grown organic producein the North Oak Street neighborhood. Oak Street neighborhood, violentAdditionally, each summer, Urban Oaks crime was at an all time high, the area • Provides hands-on invites 10 local teenagers to participate had more gangs per capita then any agricultural trainingin a 10-week, paid position that offers where else in U.S. Many long-time and education to localhands-on organic and sustainable residents left the neighborhood— youth allowing them tofarming educational training. The farm while others stayed locked in their connect with the landprovides ongoing education for residents houses. Today, the gang problemand school groups in organic gardening has been greatly reduced—violent • Catalyzed neighborhood methods, sustainable agriculture, non- crime is approaching zero percent, redevelopment totoxic farming techniques, composting, while overall crime has been reduced reduce crime ratesand other environmentally-friendly by 25 to 33 percent—which hasfarming techniques. greatly changed the character of • Provides a safe the neighborhood. Folk who left the community gatheringTo put this knowledge to practical use, neighborhood are moving back and space that improvesUrban Oaks created a one-acre, 30-plot new people are moving in, residents social connectivityneighborhood garden where gardening feel safe walking to Urban Oaks or to 13
“It is one of the ironies of Case Study: Greensgrow Farm - Philadelphia, PA An urban brownfield grows green urban agricultural development that these former industrial Established in 1997, Greensgrow sites, often called “brownfields” opened on a former industrial lot are in fact some of the best in a Philadelphia, Pennyslvania, choices for locating a new neighborhood, which is a mixed use residential-commercial-industrial area. urban agricultural business.” Greensgrow operates on the one-acre brownfield site as a hydroponic garden, www.greensgrow.org starting with growing lettuce for restaurants. Greensgrow has blossomed in the 12 years since its conception, with the property now hosting raised beds of organic soil filled with numerous vegetable and herb plants, a farm stand and a nursery. Shoppers can pick up peppers, squash, figs, eggplants, lettuce, tomatoes and many kinds of herbs just to name a few. Local residents are able to walk to of gardening including composting the garden to purchase fresh and lessons, bee-keeping, organic In the 1980s, a former steel galvanizing locally grown produce and plants, gardening and green roofs. The staff’s plant closed, leaving behind significant creating a true community feel in most recent endeavor was to start soil contamination and health concerns a space which was once tainted by making biodiesel fuel out of old frying in the community. In 1993, the EPA industrial uses. Greensgrow achieved oil retrieved from their local restaurant Superfund program stepped in to their mission of connecting city customers during produce deliveries. address the property. The building and residents with better food options contaminated soils were removed from that are easily accessible and grown BenefitsFlowers for sale at Greensgrow Farm the property, leaving only the concrete locally. Greensgrow not only grows its • Cleaned up a one-acre slab foundation. Greensgrow selected own vegetables and herbs onsite, but brownfield hydroponic gardens help to protect also offers venues for the products human health and the environment from other local growers. Additionally, • Provided access to and preserve the concrete slab a nursery on the property offers a fresh, local, and foundation site cap. Once the local wide range of plants and seedlings affordable produce and Community Development Corporation and their beehives produce fresh plants to low-income bought the property, they rented it to honey for consumers. While community Greensgrow for $150 a month, a rent Greensgrow offers a wide selection they still pay each month. This low of products onsite for community • Provided education rent shows the commitment to provide members, some of the fresh, locally opportunities on necessary beneficial services to the grown produce also is delivered to sustainable agriculture surrounding low-income Kensington local Philadelphia restaurants. community. Now with more than • Demonstrated 10 employees and volunteers at the As the garden has grown over the environmental property, Greensgrow continues to reach years, so has its offerings onsite. stewardship in business more people in the community, as well The staff offers special educational management practices as the Philadelphia region. sessions to teach about many aspects 14
Community Benefits of Improved Community SpaceAgriculture and Food System Uses Gardens and farmers markets provide community Community or neighborhood gardens gathering spaces and are local economic engines, have been shown to help reverseImproved Access to Nutritious and Healthy Foods allowing residents to interact and enjoy theirCommunity gardens allow residents to grow fresh, local urban decline by: neighborhood, while also helping support localand often organic food, leading to a better diet and farmers and the local economy. Communities • Increasing occupancy rateslifestyle that can improve public health and reduce interested in starting a farmers market may be • Increasing incomedisease. Gardening can also increase physical activity, eligible for U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) • Decreasing poverty rates30something of great need in a nation where nearly two grants to assist efforts. In addition, state legislationthirds of urban residents do not have access to a local to support local agriculture has been proposed in apark or open space for recreation.23 Lack of access to number of states to meet market demand. A countynutritious and affordable food is a fundamental public in Iowa has enacted policies to rebate 100 percent ofhealth and quality of life issue that can be corrected real property taxes to farmers who convert to organicthrough brownfield revitalization. production, and to support local and organic foodIncreased Home and Property Values purchases in county institutional settings.Research in Philadelphia concludes that community Improved Access to Local Gardeninggardens and planting trees can increase or stabilize and Food Productionthe value of neighboring properties or rental income.24 Increasing seed sales and membership in gardeningThis provides an additional economic incentive for groups signal growing interest in agriculturalgarden creation and tree planting reuses as well as activities.26 Today, 71 percent of Americancreating produce, flowers and greenspace. In St. households engage in some type of lawn or gardeningLouis, Missouri, areas surrounding gardens experience activity27 and there are an estimated five million Somerville, Massachusetts, used theirincreased home values;25 even those who do not Brownfields Cleanup grant to help create a organic gardeners.28 Web sites such as Sharingdirectly use the property are benefiting from its community garden Backyards link people with unused yard space toeffective reuse. individuals looking for a place to grow food. MoreImproved Retail and Small Business Opportunities information can be found at www.sharingbackyards.In many urban areas across the county, and com.particularly in low-income neighborhoods, many Improved Opportunities to Meet Demand forstudies conclude that there is a lack of full-service Organic Foodgrocery stores with fresh food. Residents in these Since the late 1990s, U.S. organic production hasneighborhoods are less likely to own a vehicle and more than doubled, and organic food sales havemust rely on the food retail locations that are within more than quintupled. More than two-thirds of U.S.walking distance. Instead, residents often go to consumers buy organic products at least occasionally,convenience stores which tend to offer foods of lower and 28 percent buy organic products weekly,quality and lower nutritional value and often at higher according to the Organic Trade Association. Organicprices. Brownfields revitalization can play an important products are now available in nearly 20,000 naturalrole in providing viable locations for grocery stores or food stores and nearly three quarters of conventionalsmall fresh food markets, filling urban market gaps. grocery stores.29 More information can be found at www.ers.usda.gov/briefing/organic/demand.htm. 15
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