Setting the Stage for Brownfield Redevelopment

Greater Ohio’s partners continue to create innovative programs that are building prosperity throughout the state.  This month’s guest post is from Diane Alecusan, an Urban Revitalization Specialist for the Department of Development. 

The US EPA defines a brownfield as property “complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant”. The impacts of brownfields however are often not limited to the potentially contaminated property alone. These negative impacts may move beyond the property and have an economically devastating effect on the larger area including homes, businesses, schools, and recreational areas that are not brownfields. Impacts can range from vacancy to a decrease in property values to public health concerns. Planning for this larger brownfields-impacted area at one time can ensure that remediation and reuse occur in a coordinated, efficient way and in turn, result in greater success.

The Ohio Department of Development, Urban Development Division has developed the Brownfield Action Plan Pilot Program in an effort to engage with communities on improved, more focused brownfield and area-wide planning techniques. The pilot program will use existing funds to assist communities in the development and implementation of an area-wide brownfield action plan. The development of the plan will set the stage for a quicker, clearer path to redevelopment of the area, resulting in successful revitalization of the community, returning entire corridors to productive use, and restoring neighborhood health.

The pilot program, loosely modeled after the US EPA’s Brownfield Area-Wide Planning Pilots, will involve two parts: 1) technical assistance from the Division for development of the plan, and 2) completion of a grant-funded activity that will provide more detailed research or jump-start implementation of their recently-completed plan. The two-phase process is designed to quickly but thoughtfully develop an actionable plan and maintain momentum to ensure the plan’s next steps are implemented, increasing the likelihood and speed with which properties will transform into economically beneficial use.

The Division’s goal is to use the area-wide planning approach to help communities leverage and prioritize limited local, state, and federal resources to create the greatest economic impact in areas containing brownfields.  In addition, the Division has partnered with the Community Development Division to maximize funding availability and flexibility and to provide an additional level of expertise.

The Urban Development Division will release the Request for Letters of Interest and application form on Thursday, September 1, 2011 with a due date of Friday, October 14, 2011. The Division anticipates awarding up to four pilot projects, which would be notified by the end of November. Additional information can be found on the program webpage: www.development.ohio.gov/urban/brownfieldawp.htm.

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