As defined by the Environmental Protection Agency, Brownfields are "real property, the expansion, redevelopment, or reuse of which may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant. Cleaning up and reinvesting in these properties takes development pressures off of undeveloped, open land, and both improves and protects the environment."
Since its inception in 1995, the EPA’s Brownfields Program has evolved into an effective method to address contaminated property. The program has empowered states, communities, and other stakeholders (e.g., developers) in economic redevelopment to work together to cleanup and redevelop properties that have been idled due to historic uses that have impacted soil and groundwater at these locations. Until the advent of the EPA’s program, these sites remained idle.
The EPA administers grant programs for brownfields. This investment has leveraged more than $6.5 billion to date in brownfields cleanup and development from the private and public sectors.
The EPA estimates that there are more than 465,000 brownfields in the U.S. Many of these are on waterfront. The momentum in this area provides the Water Access Alliance (WAA) with an excellent opportunity. The issue is hot and there are many groups and organizations who are involved in brownfields redevelopment. WAA has begun to partner with these groups to promote water access; provide information on marina and dry-dock permitting, construction and operation; and promote the boating lifestyle. There have been many success stories of marina developments on brownfield properties that can be models for future developments.
Along with state and local groups, WAA has met with a number of major national brownfields groups including:
• National Brownfields Association
• Urban Harbors Institute
• National Association of Development Organizations
• Northeast–Midwest Institute
• American Planning Association
• Smart Growth Network
WAA’s focus will be to build a working network with those who have the know-how and resources to identify and redevelop brownfields on the water. Additionally, we will leverage our contacts and knowledge gained to assist citizens and local governments who have waterfront brownfields in their community to include water access in redevelopment plans. Not only will we ride along on this wave of redevelopment, we will help steer, assist and advocate water access on behalf of our industry, our stakeholders, and our customers—the boating public.
Brownfield Spotlight: Point East Maine http://www.pointeastmaine.com/news_made_in_maine.html.
Focus Group Leader: Jeff Melby