Partnership in the News: West Virginia recognized for Brownfields Redevelopment

Ranson and Charles Town, West Virginia were recently recognized for their joint brownfields redevelopment efforts at the National Brownfields Conference in Atlanta on May 16, 2013.  The cities were awarded a Phoenix Award for Excellence in Brownfield Redevelopment in recognition of the ongoing redevelopment of the Ranson & Charles Town Commerce Corridor, a 1.5 mile former industrial stretch of land across both cities. Between the two cities, the corridor is marked by at least 15 significant brownfields sites.

“The fact that we were recognized for the Phoenix Award puts Ranson and Charles Town on the map,” said Ranson City Manager David Mills. Charles Town City Manager Joe Cosentini added, “It emphasizes that all we tried to do in the last 10 years contributing to revitalization was worth it.” The corridor was recognized as the preeminent brownfields effort in a region that includes Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia and Washington, D.C.

Ranson and Charles Town began revitalization efforts for the Commerce Corridor in 2001, partnering with a local environmental consulting firm. Since the project’s inception, major brownfields sites in both cities have been redeveloped into valuable community assets. An exemplary redevelopment of Ranson’s former Maytag Spray Painting/Dixie Narco plant transformed the distressed, vacant property into the Ranson Civic Center. The new facility houses the Ranson Parks and Recreation Commission, and functions as a venue for athletic events, social functions, trade shows and job fairs.


Video: Senator Inhofe on why he supports the BUILD Act of 2013

Smart Growth America’s National Brownfields Coalition hosted a breakfast at the 2013 Brownfields Conference that brought together more than 120 members and guests working on federal brownfields issues.

To open the event, Senator Jim Inhofe (R-OK) welcomed guests with a video message about the importance of  brownfields redevelopment and its success across the country. Senator Inhofe is a lead sponsor of the BUILD Act, a bill in Congress that would help communities turn abandoned land back into vibrant spaces by reauthorizing the federal Brownfields program.


Indiana finds a creative way to finance brownfields redevelopment

Indiana SEP
Straughter Body Shop prior to demolition and remediation (left) and after (right). The project was made possible by SEP funding. Photos via Meredith Gramelspacher.

The following is a guest post from Meredith Gramelspacher, Director and General Counsel of the
Indiana Brownfields Program

Indiana’s toolbox for creative brownfields financing includes one source that is seldom used outside of Indiana: Supplemental Environmental Projects.

Supplemental Environmental Projects (SEPs) are used by the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) Office of Enforcement in negotiating settlements of enforcement cases. These environmentally-beneficial project improve, protect, or reduce risks to public health or the environment. A regulated entity agrees to undertake the project in further settlement of an enforcement action, but which the regulated entity is not otherwise legally required to perform. In certain cases, IDEM agrees to allow a respondent to make a cash payment of an agreed-upon dollar amount directly to the Indiana Finance Authority in lieu of an assessed civil penalty for use on a brownfield project in the city, town or county in which the violation underlying the enforcement action occurred. The Indiana Brownfields Program then coordinates with the beneficiary community to select a brownfield property at which to utilize the SEP Funds consistent with Brownfield SEP guidelines.


Now Available: What the BUILD Act could build webinar archive

711 Canal Street in Stamford, CT. Image courtesy of Pullman & Comley Attorneys Thank you to everyone who attending SGA’s National Brownfields Coalition’s webinar What the BUILD Act Could Build on Wednesday, May 8th, 2013. On the webinar, we discussed the legislation introduced in March by Senators Lautenberg (D-NJ), Inhofe (R-OK), Crapo (R-ID), and Udall (D-NM), changes to … Continued


A new resource for engaging community members in brownfield redevelopment

OPTIONs Workbook coverDo you know the ten smart growth principles by heart? Me neither, but there’s one I never forget: Encourage Community and Stakeholder Collaboration in Development Decisions.

Engaging community members in decisions about where, what, when and how to invest, build, and preserve is what makes smart growth smart. As basic as this principle is, though, it is not always easy to do. There is a learning curve for everyone involved in the development process and this is particularly true for brownfield sites—properties that are or are suspected to be contaminated by hazardous materials. Brownfields are some of the most complicated redevelopment projects and the more people and official processes that are involved in the process, the steeper the learning curve.

That’s why Smart Growth America is happy to release a new tool designed to help communities organize for effective public outreach. The Organizing to Promote Targeted Improvements in Our Neighborhoods (OPTIONs) Community Engagement Workbook is a series of seven worksheets with instructions designed to help community groups think about how to organize, what they need, and how to build a strategy to participate in the redevelopment process. Community groups can use these tools on their own, but they can be just as useful for local governments seeking working with partners in federally- and state-mandated community engagement programs.


Healthfields: Creating healthy communities and improving neighborhoods at the same time

Willa Cather Center
The Willa Carson Health and Wellness Center in Clearwater, FL used to be a vacant gas station.

As cities and towns seek to improve conditions for economic development, a burgeoning trend is beginning to take hold in communities around the country. Forgoing the traditional methods of pursuing private investment, some communities are instead taking a ‘health-based’ approach – identifying basic community needs like access to health care, fresh food, and safe places to gather and play and prioritizing those investments to sustain a healthy neighborhood. When these priorities are incorporated into brownfield redevelopment, the result is known as a “Healthfield,” and the concept is gaining traction with planners, health professionals and environmental advocates around the country.


Upcoming Webinars: May 2013

Want to learn about new, innovative strategies for creating great places? Several upcoming webinars provide ideas and inspiration for local leaders.

School Siting: Understanding the Challenges and Opportunities for Communities and Decision-makers
Wednesday, May 8, 2013 – 1:00-2:15 PM EDT
Click here to register
This webinar will help districts, schools, and communities understand the importance of school siting and the impacts on economic development, public health, and the environment. A panel of experts, including Suzi Ruhl, Senior Attorney Policy Advisor in the EPA’s Office of Environmental Justice; Regina Langton, Senior Policy Analyst, EPA’s Office of Sustainable Communities; and Katherine Moore, Manager of Georgia Conservancy’s Sustainable Growth program, will provide participants with information and tools with school siting decisions.


Partnership in the News: 20 communities receive grants to plan for brownfield cleanup and reuse

Groundwork Hudson Valley
Groundwork Hudson Valley, which help residents reclaim and revitalize communities with great need, is one of this year’s grant recipients.Photo via Groundwork Hudson Valley.

Twenty communities looking to bolster their economy by revitalizing abandoned land will have the help of a 2013 Brownfields Area-Wide Planning Grant, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced last week.

EPA’s Brownfields Area-Wide Planning program provides funding for research, technical assistance and training that will result in an area-wide plan and implementation strategy for key brownfield sites. EPA launched the program in 2010 with the goal of adopting a broader approach to brownfield redevelopment.


Join us for a webinar: What the BUILD Act could build

Harrison Commons in Harrison, NJ. Last month, Senators Lautenberg (D-NJ), Inhofe (R-OK), Crapo (R-ID), and Udall (D-NM) introduced the Brownfields Utilization, Investment and Local Development (BUILD) Act of 2013. The legislation would reauthorize EPA’s Brownfields Program, as well as expand non-profit eligibility to receive brownfields grants and allow the EPA to award flexible multipurpose grants … Continued


National Brownfields Coalition seeks members for Remediation Tax Expensing committee

Medpace moved their 700-employee headquarters to Cincinnati and used the tax expensing program to overcome $3.0 million in cleanup costs. Photo via

Brownfields professionals and coalition members are invited to join a new committee of the National Brownfields Coalition dedicated to re-implementing the Section 198 Remediation Tax Expensing program.

The Committee is organizing support from communities that have benefited from the program, and is providing information to Congress on the past impacts and the future potential of the program. The Committee has already organized a sign-on letter in support of the measure and hosted a webcast about the issue with our partner NALGEP. The webcast includes many project examples, including the Medpace office and research laboratory pictured above, which was built on a 29-acre parcel in Cincinnati that was once contaminated. Medpace has 750 employees at the site with plans for future expansion.