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June 2012 | Volume 1, Issue 3  

 IN THIS ISSUE:

 Township of West Windsor Designated a Transit Village
 Ohio’s Brownfield Action Plan Pilot Program
 Submetering: An Approach to Tracking Energy Expenditures
 Grantee Spotlight: St. Louis Plans for Regional Renewal


 

Ohio’s Brownfield Action Plan Pilot Program

The City of Piqua is planning for a 26-acre brownfields-impacted area on the southeast part of downtown, adjacent to the Great Miami River. The planning area contains six potential brownfields and was identified as a priority through a citywide redevelopment analysis completed in 2010.
The City of Piqua is planning for a 26-acre brownfields-impacted area on the southeast part of downtown, adjacent to the Great Miami River. The planning area contains six potential brownfields and was identified as a priority through a citywide redevelopment analysis completed in 2010. Image courtesy of Ohio Department of Development
The Brownfield Action Plan Pilot Program, a two-part initiative launched in Fall 2011 by the Ohio Department of Development (ODOD), is the state’s program to address comprehensive redevelopment of multiple brownfield sites in the context of their surrounding neighborhoods, rather than as separate parcels. This past December, six inaugural grants of $50,000 each were awarded to the cities of Fairborn, Newark, Ravenna, Piqua, and Xenia, and to the Seneca Industrial and Economic Development Corporation (SIEDC).

Value of Areawide Brownfield Remediation

Many reasons exist for pursuing areawide brownfield redevelopment. As ODOD’s Diane Alecusan explains, brownfields can negatively affect the value of neighboring land, even when they do not need remediation. Second, some brownfields are simply too small or too costly to remediate as a single project. Addressing these areas within the context of their respective communities, however, can transform them into usable properties that are or can become neighborhood assets. Even when they are not being used, brownfields are still very much a part of their neighborhoods; they use the same infrastructure as the properties that surround them, including roads, sewage and water systems, electric lines, and other public amenities. Overall, says Thea Walsh, deputy chief of ODOD’s Office of Redevelopment, the area-wide approach to brownfield remediation is meant to address the contaminated sites “within the context of broader economic development goals.”

Community-Driven, Interagency Origins

Ohio’s initiative is modeled on the Brownfields Area-Wide Planning Pilot Program managed by the US Environmental Protection Agency — a core program supported by the federal Partnership for Sustainable Communities. EPA sponsored a Spring 2011 community workshop featuring speakers who are participating in the Brownfields Area-Wide Planning Pilot Program from across the country. State interest was sparked as a result with a desire to create a similar program specific for Ohio communities.

Like its federal model, Ohio’s Brownfield Action Plan is made possible by interagency funding — in this case, Community Development Block Grant program funds offered by HUD and EPA’s Brownfield Revolving Loan Fund Grant program.

A Two-Stage Approach to Effective Areawide Planning

According to Walsh, ODOD received 19 applications for the first Ohio Brownfield Action Plan. Among other criteria, she says, her department looked at whether the applicants demonstrated an understanding of and commitment to forging partnerships among multiple stakeholders, such as economic development groups, utilities, and housing organizations — all the “different components of a developable site.”

During the first phase of the program, which is already underway, the six grantees receive technical assistance from ODOD to collect data and develop their own Brownfield Action Plan. Once the plan is completed and certified, the community receives $50,000 to implement the steps outlined in the plan. Walsh hopes that the program will help communities take advantage of other tools that are available for use in redeveloping brownfields, such as the state’s EPA Brownfield Revolving Loan Fund Grant program, which grants up to $1 million for addressing contaminated sites, asbestos abatement, and petroleum clean-ups.

The six participating communities advanced visions for remediating entire neighborhoods, which include non-brownfield sites such as housing, schools, and commercial activities. SIEDC, for instance, plans to remediate 280 acres encompassing former industrial lots, low-income housing, and the space where Tiffin University is slated to be built.


 

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