More than Brownfield Services, It's Community Building

by Jeff Hawkins
May 23, 2013

Blog Photo_Community Building 1

Each year, hundreds of communities apply and compete for EPA grants to assess, clean up and redevelop Brownfield sites. Ultimately out of this pool of applicants, only 240 communities were selected across the country and only nine were chosen from Michigan.

For each grant, applicants must enlist partnerships and garner letters of support from community-based organizations. These partnerships and letters demonstrate a united front, jointly committed to tackling a public challenge.

Coalitions provide an added layer of legitimacy and serve to demonstrate a shared community vision. It is not surprising so many of these grants require letters of support, as agencies know the likelihood of success stems from rallying community engagement around a plan.

From the initial grant writing to the shovel ready site, community engagement remains an integral component to the redevelopment process.

"For many of our clients, we provide much more than environmental services, we're in the business of community building," said David Stegink, associate vice president at Envirologic Technologies, Inc. "To fully succeed at this, our work requires an abundance of strategies to help build coalitions, educate and grow awareness in the communities we serve."

It is imperative that developers and planners include and invest the community and partners in the planning and decision-making process.

More than just enlisting partners to support redevelopment, Envirologic aims to build awareness in the communities we work. We do so through informative trainings and events, sharing the tools and resources available.

"This past quarter, Envirologic has worked closely with our partners to present informative outreach events in St. Clair and Marquette Counties," said Tom Doherty, project scientist. "These outreach activities provide an opportunity to closely engage leading economic and community partners."

For most communities, brownfield services entail more than just the remediation of a blighted or contaminated plot of land. It is important that partners recognize the enduring impact brownfield projects have on neighborhoods, communities and entire regions. The impact is more than cosmetic, as projects have an impact on health and safety, the local economy and the environment. In fact, many of these outcomes take place:

  • Increased positive perception and community pride
  • Removal of curbside blighted eyesores
  • Public health and safety
  • Improved property values and tax base
  • Improved odds of attracting or retaining industry
  • Job creation
  • Enhanced investment by the private sector

Smart Growth America offers a useful community engagement workbook to help guide the engagement process. Click here to access more information on this free resource.

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smart growth america  brownfield services  brownfield redevelopment  coalition building  coalitions  assessment grants  cleanup grants  brownfield sites  community building

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