Monday, March 10, 2008

Brownfields Committee Gears Up

The new Brownfields Development Area Steering Committee will meet at 6:30 p.m. March 20 in City Hall Library, according to a legal notice (blown up 200 percent here so you can read it).
This committee could prove to be very valuable if the city receives a Brownfield Development Area designation from the state DEP. The designation brings as much as $5 million annually to remediate contaminated properties for redevelopment.

Plaintalker has reported on this opportunity previously and in the interest of time will offer entries from past articles. There is a U.S. EPA link that describes more fully what brownfields are.

Given the market slowdown and the stagnation of other revitalization efforts, this is one worth watching.

From the Feb. 22 blog entry:
“Municipalities must form a steering committee showing broad community support for designation as a “Brownfields Development Area.” Besides receiving funds that help attract developers by reducing remediation costs, designated cities get a case manager who monitors and expedites all its brownfields redevelopment.

“Plainfield will seek designation for five redevelopment areas. They include the Marino’s tract on West Front Street, the site of a former car dealership; the North Avenue Historic District, which is being expanded to include a city parking lot; the East Third and Richmond site that includes the former Cozzoli Machine Company property; the former Disco Aluminum site; and a former gas station site that is targeted for the second phase of the Arlington Heights townhouse project.The required steering committee must include stakeholders such as property owners, developers, city staff and legislators “that may shape the vision and support the implementation” of the Brownfields Development Area, according to a letter to the Planning board from Assistant Economic Development Director Jacques Howard. A public presentation on the Brownfields Redevelopment Area is planned for March, Howard said.”

From the Dec. 4 blog post:
“The rationale for the new committee is to have a broad-based group of community members who can help identify Brownfields Development Areas that will be eligible for state funding for remediation. Proposed members include Mayor Sharon Robinson-Briggs’ confidential aide, Barbara James, to represent the mayor; a council member; Planning Director Bill Nierstedt; Al Restaino, who is in charge of the city’s Community Development Block Grant process; Jacques Howard of the city’s Economic Development office; attorney Ed Boccher from the Union County Improvement Authority; property owner Andrew Arditti, who owns the E. Paul building; Howell Electric; a consultant from Excel Environmental Services; Dornoch Plainfield and Cecil Sanders, representing developers; and Frankly Green as a local business.”
It's an odd time for a meeting and some of us will have to do a double-header, as the Planning Board meets at 8 p.m. in the same location, but this new opportunity deserves some attention.
--Bernice Paglia


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