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  • 03 Jan 2022 2:26 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    BCONE joined with  eleven other environmental, business, and social justice organizations from throughout NYS to inform Gov. Hochul of the importance pf a long-term reauthorization of the Brownfields Cleanup Program.  You can find the letter here.  BCONE’s frequent organization partner, the New York City Brownfield Partnership, is credited with October 2021 report that quantifies the number of cleanups under the program and the on-site rate of return ratio of $6.63 in private development for every $1 of tax credits. For the entirety of the BCP, $17.61 billion in private investment has resulted from  $2.77billion in tax credits.

    Posted January 3, 2022

  • 22 Nov 2021 3:09 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    On November 18th, we had a joint event with the New York City Brownfield Partnership on the impacts of COVID. This was Part 4 of an ongoing series we have been holding. 

    Based on this event, we have some suggested reading material for all those who are interested:

    Posted November 22, 2021
  • 18 Nov 2021 9:23 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Held on Nov 9, 2021, and attended by over 40 enthusiastic members, the BCONE Board of Directors provided a year in review of BCONE activities, the current and proposed budget revenue sources and expenditures and an introduction to the new committee structure.  Click here for a complete copy of the meeting’s PowerPoint presentation. 

    The attendees were extremely helpful in providing answers to 9 poll questions found here, assisting the Board in its decisions on what type of events to hold in 2022, whether they should be virtual or in person and other input.

    If you did NOT attend the Annual meeting, but want to make your voice heard, send us an email at brownfieldcoalitionne@gmail.com, and let us know your answer to the poll questions, your recommendations for 2022 events and activities, and let us know which committee you want to join so you can help direct the future of YOUR BCONE.

    Here are some suggestions we heard from attendees; let us know what you think and feel free to add to the list:

    1. Top Golf for a networking event.
    2. Put up more Success Stories (and feature them in events/courses). Would love to!  Send us the stories.
    3. Food pairings with wine or with beer as a networking event. How about a beer and bacon pairing?
    4. Select a charity to feature for awareness at every event.
    5. Work with existing mentoring groups in our BCONE region  and offer Internships.             
    6. Create a revenue goal for 2022, and have a giant thermometer on website or at Board Meetings to show how BCONE is doing meeting the goal.
    7. Social media training for BCONE members.
  • 15 Nov 2021 2:41 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The BCONE Pennsylvania Expansion Committee held a “Tour and Pour” event on November 10, 2021, in downtown Reading. The walking tour was hosted by the Greater Reading Chamber Alliance and Alvernia University. During the tour, several redevelopment sites were visited including the Wells Fargo Building on Penn Street.

    Developer Alan Shuman, owner of the Shuman Development Group, led a tour through the building and discussed different aspects of the project including environmental issues that were addressed. The group also visited Alvernia University’s new Reading CollegeTowne facility, a dynamic extension of main campus which showcases Alvernia’s student-centric approach to learning.

    The five-story complex brings hundreds of students, faculty and staff to downtown Reading every day, nurturing economic development in the City and bringing a thriving new energy to the Penn Street corridor. Dr. Rodney Ridley discussed the history of CollegeTowne and the O’Pake Institute as well as the challenges currently facing higher education. Alvernia students lead BCONE members on a tour of the facility.

    The event concluded with an evening networking session at the Saucony Creek Franklin Station Brew Pub, which is a repurposed railroad station dating to the 1930’s. 


    Look for more “Tour and Pour” events from the PA Expansion Committee in 2022.

    Posted November 15, 2021

  • 11 Nov 2021 11:45 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    By Steve Dwyer 

    How does one put a positive spin on a pandemic? Maria Coler found two bona fide ways to do it: forming a virtual BCONE book club and starting a hiking club. Both are gaining traction and getting high marks from participants at a time when they need it most.    

    Coler, President of Hydrotechnology Consultants Inc. (HCI), Jersey City, N.J., formed the BCONE Brownfields, Books and Beer Club -- formatting it as a virtual event -- during the early part of 2020, when people were working remotely and stuck at home for long periods of time.  

    “My aim has been to raise the environmental consciousness of brownfield practitioners.” The iconic stories demonstrate that the average person possesses the ability to effect real and substantial change,” Coler says.  

    Coler envisions the book club as a potential gateway to attracting new people to BCONE and the brownfield industry. One pre-existing challenge is that many budding environmental professionals opt for careers in more “sexy” fields, such as renewable energy, sustainability and climate change. Many overlook brownfields as a career.

    “Anyone living around contaminated sites or those teaching about contaminated sites -- they all have the power to convey information about these sites,” says Coler, who has more than 15 years of experience in the environmental consulting field and is a Licensed Site Remediation Professional (LSRP) with the state of New Jersey. 

    There are some compelling historical examples about lessons learned --and they are being showcased in the book club.  

    Coler cites Love Canal during the late 1970s as something that has impacted peoples’ “heads and, more importantly, their hearts. That environmental saga changed the world and highlighted  how human health and safety have been put in peril. The purpose of the book club is to remind people of the arc of environmental consciousness: where we are and how much further we need to go.” 

    Coler cites scientists and citizen activists who have propelled the environmental movement forward. One is Rachel Carson. The book club participants were exposed to the voice and courage that Carson exuded in her iconic book “Silent Spring,” which challenged the practices of agricultural scientists and the government, calling for change in the way humankind viewed the natural world.

    In writing the book, Carson, a writer, scientist and ecologist spoke out to remind that humanity is a vulnerable part of the natural world, and is subject to the same damage as the rest of the ecosystem. Testifying before Congress in 1963, Carson called for new policies to protect human health and the environment. Carson, who died in 1964, grew up in the rural river town of Springdale, PA. 

    “It was an awakening—it informed the whole environmental movement of the1960s, and it woke up a generation, so we started with that book,” says Coler. 

    Coler says that without Rachel Carson there would be no Greta Thunberg, the Swedish environmental activist known for challenging world leaders to take immediate action for climate change mitigation -- all at the age of 18.

    “It’s a passing of the baton -- and it’s a narrative that says, ‘never underestimate the ability of a small group of people to change the world,' in fact, it’s often the small groups that effect change most dramatically.” 

    The group has also read “Love Canal: A Toxic History from Colonial Times to the Present” (Richard S. Newman) and Pulitzer Prize winner, “Toms River” (Dan Fagin.)

    In the summer of 1978, residents of Love Canal, Niagara Falls, N.Y., protested against the leaking toxic waste dump in their midst, a 16-acre site containing 100,000 barrels of chemical waste that infested their neighborhood. Initially seeking evacuation, area activists soon found they were engaged in a far larger battle over the meaning of America’s industrial past and its environmental future. 

    “While Silent Spring produced a narrative centered around the dangers of pesticides, Love Canal and Toms River opened the nation’s eyes to hazardous waste. in their midst.” 

    “We are exploring the commonalities of these stories -- you have these archetypes who are integral to each story: the attorney who won’t give up, the citizen scientist who won’t take no for an answer, the civil servant who acts out of a sense of duty, and the scientist who vows to take a closer look, despite conventional wisdom.” 

    In the case of Love Canal, the activist citizens exerted enough pressure that it forced former President Jimmy Carter to sign sweeping legislation now known as Superfund. “The aim of the book club is to attract people to the mission of remediating brownfield sites. To build a sustainable 21st century, we must address the vestiges of the 19th and 20th centuries.”

    “These stories teach us that these are hard-earned rights—that we have to keep earning them every day,” says Coler, who holds a B.S. in Environmental Science, B.A. in Physics and minor in English Literature from Rutgers University and who is often retained as an expert witness. “These stories have the seeds of knowledge to help us build a sustainable world. They are not radical stories. They are the stories of regular citizens fighting for their basic rights to live in safe neighborhoods with clean water, soil, and air.” 

    The book club has evolved from a few core members to nearly 20 registered participants.  Coler is a guest lecturer on topics covered in the book club for the Phase I/Phase II course taught by Angelo Lampousis, a BCONE board member and City College of New York (CCNY) professor. Students from the CCNY class and the Stevens Institute of Technology program led by Professor Dibyendu “Dibs” Sarkar are invited to join the book club and gain extra credits, as well as a unique understanding of the brownfield industry and the history of the environmental movement in the United States. Inquisitive students often remain on the Zoom call to ask questions long after the book club session is over. “My goal is to increase the participation of graduate and undergraduate students, to plant the seeds of environmental awareness and to give them a reason to join the effort to remediate contaminated sites across the country and the world.”

    Regarding the hiking club, Coler had to “re-think activities that were possible and safe when Covid hit. The hikes create a sense of community and environmental awareness. A geology field guide explains the ancient origins of the land features, while an ecology field guide describes the flora and fauna indigenous to the area and how the ecosystem may have changed over time with human intervention and environmental degradation.

    Photos from some of the hiking trips and the tea ceremony.

    Coler and Anne Lazo, BCONE webmaster, avid hiker and runner, and owner of Eagle Soars, a marketing firm, are taking the hiking club to “the next level” in the spring of 2022, when an overnight excursion is planned on the Appalachian Trail. In addition to ecology and geology field guides, and with a nod to recent severe weather events, Coler and Lazo plan to enlist the involvement of a survivalist, who will teach the participants survival skills such as foraging and fire building. Look for registration information in 2022.

    Lazo backpacking on the AT in North Carolina with her nephew.

  • 06 Oct 2021 2:23 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Binghamton University Libraries Grant:   A Springboard to Accelerative Sustainability Education & Practice

    By Steve Dwyer 

    Editor’s Note: BCONE’s Executive Director was part of an invigorating discussion this summer with Jen Embree, Neyda Gilman, and Carrie Blabac-Myers, Development Officer for the Binghamton University Libraries. Librarians were not a group that BCONE had ever considered as brownfield remediation and redevelopment allies, but this summer’s discussion  generated ideas for possible future projects including  additional learning and teaching opportunities for students seeking environmental careers.

    Learn more about Embree and Gilman in the article, below,  as well as in this this piece from Binghamton University:

    https://libnews.binghamton.edu/connections/2021/08/24/alumni-connections/ 

    At Binghamton University in Binghamton, N.Y., two subject librarians are quickly becoming sustainability evangelists in their daily involvement with faculty, staff and students—all via new tools and measures that came about after the university libraries received a primary grant from the American Library Association. The grant, which was announced last fall, provides additional resources and motivation for the libraries to expand sustainability-related work that had already started to some degree.

    Neyda Gilman and Jen Embree, both subject librarians at Binghamton, are setting a course to carry out sustainability best practices at the university, and are eager to see how the grant from last fall will make inroads into that effort.

    Efforts along the sustainability spectrum are curbing carbon emissions, water efficiency, waste reduction, biodiversity, sustainable building design, wind and solar energy, crop rotation, geothermal practices and fostering an assurance of more green spaces in the urban infill.

    From a brownfield environmental remediation perspective, professionals are always seeking ways to implement better and more efficient green and sustainable cleanup strategies.  

    Both Gilman and Embree do not have “official” sustainability education or training; but, both have long been strong proponents for sustainable practices. With this grant, the university libraries program can set out to accelerate broad practices and in turn receive university-level buy-in. 

    Multi-faceted components

    The primary goal of the ALA grant is to “help libraries engage their communities in programs and conversations that address the climate crisis.”

    At Binghamton, the distinction of the ALA grant—something that adds clarity and relevance—is the fact that the university serves as only one of five academic libraries in the U.S. to receive it, as all 20 other recipients are U.S.-based local public libraries. (Binghamton U. is the lone academic library in New York State to receive the full grant.) 

    Among the resources that Binghamton University can now implement on the road to preaching sustainable living is an expanding DVD library offering access to several climate related films. Most of these will be used for streaming events.

    Some themes include, “How to Let Go of the World and Love All the Things Climate Can’t Change,” “Decoding the Weather Machine” and “Chasing Ice.” Some sustainability-related events and activities will be available throughout campus, and the grant will see an advancement of the Binghamton University Seed Library, says Gilman. 

    The Seed Library, located in the Science Library on main campus, allows individuals to “borrow” seeds to grow with the intention of harvesting and returning seeds at the end of the season. Seed libraries have multiple benefits, including:

    • Promoting biodiversity, preserving genetic diversity;
    • Providing community members with seeds to grow healthy food to supplement their diet;
    • Supporting local seed-savers and gardeners; and
    • Encouraging increased engagement between the library and the community.

    Anyone can come into the Binghamton University Science Library to access the Seed Library. Individuals can take seeds of each type of plant to grow, with seeds pre-divided into envelopes for ease. The university is providing tutorials on how to harvest seeds as well as have various events surrounding the topic. 

    The Mission Expands

    The actual grant sum for Binghamton Libraries is modest—$1,000—but it’s about more than the funds: One key intangible outgrowth of the grant is that the university will receive ongoing support from the ALA in its efforts, says Gilman. “The financial aspect helps us get started, but the grant equates to program prestige [via the ALA sanctioning it as such] and helps us market this program better,” says Gilman, who is assistant head of sustainability and STEM engagement, and has been at Binghamton University for five years.

    Gilman says that while she doesn’t possess “formal” training in sustainability practices, she says practicing it has been “a personal calling for decades. I am very confident in the knowledge I have accumulated around sustainability practices.”

    Prior to receiving the grant, Gilman says “sustainability was never part of our job description, so the grant came at a good time as we can now make it part of our job description,” says Gilman, who is the subject librarian supporting nursing and pharmaceutical schools at the university: It is in this role that the staff and faculty of these areas of learning can tap Gilman as the go-to resources as they further their research and study.

    Embree serves as the sustainability hub coordinator, and has been with the university for three years. She is the subject librarian for biology, psychology and comparative literature, just to name three areas of education. A UCONN graduate, Embree has taken multiple classes in the sustainability field, and is now poised to use the grant to power up her knowledge through practice.

    “The grant also serves as a way for Neyda and me to move forward in more of a team approach. You can do more—and it made us focus our energy better. We now also have an official Sustainability Hub,” she says. 

    What lies ahead in 2021 and into 2022 for the libraries program is to disseminate the many tenets grounded in sustainable lifestyles, “sharing what is happening on campus, spreading it and getting people involved to learn. There are many people with an interest in sustainability that lack an easy way to obtain the knowledge and the tools. We have several platforms for them to obtain this knowledge now,” says Gilman. 

    “What we want to accomplish is to maintain a sustainability culture among students and faculty—not just in the study curriculum but it’s a lifestyle thing. That is what we are trying to accomplish,” says Embree. 

    Question for our Readers:  There must be additional professions which BCONE should add to its lists of  allies. Who and what are we missing?  Let us know of other amazing people you have encountered so BCONE can get to know them better.

  • 10 Aug 2021 1:57 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    By Steve Dwyer 

    Three BCONE members are making their mark -- and in a hurry. They’ve progressed from membership to committee chairs and/or board members in short order, and are now tasked with recruiting, and appealing to, younger industry professionals within a fledgling BCONE mentorship committee.

    The threesome include: Alexa Fiumarelli, environmental scientist, Boswell Engineering, South Hackensack, N.J.; Almariet Palm-Roberts, project geologist, HRP, Farmington, Conn.; and Melina Ambrosino, executive vice president, Newton, Mass.-based Cherrytree Group LLC.

        

    During the summer, the three women were busy establishing a working blueprint for this new BCONE committee that is founded on the premise of advocating for and mentoring young professionals—ones who might already be BCONE members and ones who might be interested in joining the organization.

    The beauty of this newly formed committee is that all three members have diversified industry experience across three Northeast states—Connecticut, New Jersey and Massachusetts. 

    As part of the mentoring committee vision, the trio is branching out engage with students at colleges and universities—mentoring would-be brownfield professionals. The committee, which might ultimately be billed as the “Developing Emerging Leaders,” is designed to “find and network with young, emerging leaders and determine ways for them to flourish,” says Fiumarelli, who has accumulated experience as an industrial hygienist responsible for performing air monitoring of formaldehyde gas, carbon dioxide, and oxygen on various construction sites. 

    Alexa has accumulated project management/supervision experience where she provides solutions around air management, while working independently,  traveling to different locations throughout New Jersey to provide health and safety surveillance. Focusing on earning a Master’s degree from Rutgers in public health, she says one mentoring advantage that she and her colleagues are able to offer as young professionals is the ability to relate to young professional and students well. 

    “We’re more in touch with younger people—we’ve recently walked in their shoes. I recently wrote a short definition of what a mentor is and the word that first came to mind is ‘trust.’ I told one of my ‘mentees’ at William Paterson University [Wayne, N.J., where she volunteers as a mentor] that I am your connection for life. I can help lift you up and you can also help lift me up as well—it works both ways.”

    When she joined BCONE, Fiumarelli was eager to dive right into committee involvement, and was a member of the Scholarship committee. She ultimately thought there was a more optimal committee assignment that would align best with her skill sets. The soon-to-be created mentoring committee was ideal.

    Diverse Backgrounds 

    All three  mentoring committee co-chairs have eclectic backgrounds, which adds a broad perspective to the effort. Ambrosino is a tax credit manager overseeing the brownfield redevelopment side of business, while Roberts is a project geologist for HRP Associates, where she works to minimize environmental risks associated with client projects, all to help them reach intended business goals.

    Fiumarelli, who had formerly been with Whitman Co., an engineering firm in Cranberry, N.J., recently joined Boswell as an industrial hygiene/environmental scientist. “My experience with brownfields historically has been processing OSHA complaints, solar jobs, LSRP due diligence, Phase I and Phase II site investigation, and more,” she explains. 

    Palm-Roberts, who has been a BCONE member for two years and is in her second year on the board, has been working with the Connecticut expansion committee, and is now eager to branch out with a second committee assignment, mentoring. 

    Speaking about the theme of emerging leaders, Palm-Roberts, who is a UCONN grad, says that college graduates entering the work force “need guidance to make them aware of their options, and it’s a tricky thing where you have to try and match your specific skill set with various positions,” she says. “Seeing their future in this industry can be unclear to newly minted professionals, who can become discouraged. It’s for this reason they need a support system to facilitate for them. It can be intimidating talking to people in their field: I know I was intimidated at one time, So, the three of us think that we can work to be that ‘bridge.’ ”

    Palm-Roberts states that the term, “it’s who you know,” is often the way young people climb the ladder quickly. But the Catch-22 is getting the foot through the door initially. “How do you get to know the important people in your field? Cold calling is difficult, so as this committee is formed, we can serve as that conduit, to allow young professionals to formulate these bonds organically. Plus, having a forum such as social events that we’ll sponsor will be really useful.”

    In fact, Palm-Roberts likes the idea of scheduling dinners, community service and happy hour events, including virtual events if the impacts of the pandemic continue to keep people away from attending live events. “The more regularly we can host events, the more your base grows. I think we’ll start out deciding if events should be monthly or quarterly. The key is to get people involved and committed—and it’s tricky getting people committed to something.” 

    Alexa Fiumarelli, meantime, says one objective of the team will be its close collaboration with the BCONE Scholarship committee, where perhaps the college students who are being mentored might be identified as eligible candidates for the BCONE annual Charlie Bartsch Memorial Scholarship. 

    “Going forward, the three of us will be in communication regularly,” she says. “We want to get social media going too, with an emphasis on Facebook and LinkedIn to scout for and communicate with young professionals. There’s a lot to look forward to!” 

  • 26 Jul 2021 1:52 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Long-time collaborators -- AEG-NYP, AHMP-NJ, BCONE, LSRPA and NJSWEP -- were back together at the summer networking event, watching the Trenton Thunder vs. Syracuse Mets game of July 22, 2021, and catching up after 16 months of all virtual meetings and networking events. Seventy-five people from the NJ-NY-PA region, and from all sectors of the remediation and redevelopment worlds were there, spending a perfect summer night enjoying baseball, beverages, fireworks and festivity. Thanks to the event sponsors: AWT, Mount Group, and SGS. Thanks also to the raffle sponsor, Hill Environmental/SET. The winner of the random drawing, John Iannotti, with the full agreement of sponsor Greg Hill, donated the cash prize to fund scholarships for the next generation of remediation professionals.  

    Check the summer and fall schedules of all of the participating organizations for future in-person events. There are a few on the books already.


  • 21 Jul 2021 1:14 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    And by virtue, secure 2021 Charlie Bartsch scholarship 

    By Steve Dwyer 

    Once again, BCONE is recognizing budding excellence within the brownfield remediation and environmental space. In short, youth is being served…and in a few years, youth will return the favor and serve right back. Many new industry recruits will assume the torch in order to keep brownfield practice alive and well. 

    The vehicle for this talent recognition is the Charlie Bartsch Memorial Scholarship that’s handed out annually to students who exhibit excellence in engineering and environmental course work at various colleges and universities in the BCONE geographic footprint. 

    This year, the spotlight shines on Lafayette College, Easton, PA, where BCONE named Hannah Cook and Leigh Jacobsen as scholarship recipients. They had participated in course work overseen by Arthur D. Kney, Ph.D., professor of environmental engineering at Lafayette College. 

    Image: From left to right - Hannah Cook, Leigh Jacobsen, Dr. Arthur Kney, Leslie Tintle and Maria Coler

    Maria Coler, BCONE’s Scholarship Chair, reviewed student projects along with Leslie Tintle, a Project Geologist at  Sanborn Head & Associates, Inc. and a graduate of Lafayette College as they determined the winning Cook-Jacobsen team.  

    According to Coler, LSRP, CEO and founder of Hydrotechnology Consultants Inc., Jersey City, NJ., she and Tintle reviewed three Phase I Environmental Site Assessments before the BCONE Scholarship Committee made its final decision to award Cook and Jacobsen, which she called “excellent work.”

    “Phase I ESAs, when performed correctly, require a detailed analysis of several data streams. Mastering the analysis of each data stream is not an easy task. Learning how to cross-reference data streams and critically analyze the information takes years. It appears that [Professor Kney’s] students are off to an excellent start. While all of the Phase I ESAs were excellent, the Phase I’s for the Armory and Gas Station [of which the Cook-Jacobsen team worked on] stood out.” 

    The teams were required to evaluate complex histories and off-site impacts, with each team excelling in different aspects of analysis. Like anyone would expect from students still building an affinity for mastering Phase I ESA’s, Coler says: “there were lessons to learn. The Armory team attempted to use analogous sites to overcome their data gap regarding potential sources of hazardous waste. I think it would have been informative if they more thoroughly researched armories in general and then cited the specific sites to back up their general research.”

    Cook says she is eager to continue to learn and master brownfields in a holistic manner. She has accepted a full-time offer as an engineer in Washington, D.C. with Clark Construction, a company with which she has interned the past two summers. “My plan is to pursue either the Site Superintendent or Project Manager career path to help facilitate the delivery of renovation and new construction projects.” 

    Asked what her career aspirations are in the brownfield industry, Hannah says that “knowing some of the potential contaminants that cause a site to be classified as a brownfield, I believe that I’ll be better prepared to protect the crews on site, mitigate future issues, and also point out signs of previous contamination.”

    In speaking about their motivation to pursue brownfields, students that BCONE has engaged with in the past have indicated an interest triggered by what they experienced in their local communities along the way of blight, abandoned properties and dilapidation—all projecting a community in a negative fashion. 

    Along those lines, Hannah enrolled in Professor Kney’s “Introduction to Environmental Engineering'” class as a sophomore. Throughout the course, Dr. Kney proved to be “passionate about the material and mitigating threats to society and the environment that I could not help but begin to develop my own passion for these issues. In my senior year, I elected to take “Environmental Site Assessment,” which truly opened my eyes to the environmental injustice many disadvantaged communities face.”

    “To be able to take this knowledge forward and attempt to put it to use benefitting any community in which I may work is rewarding in itself,” she adds. 

    Jacobsen, of Stamford, Conn., says that while taking Lafayette’s Environmental Site Assessment Capstone, she learned much about preliminary site investigations for potential environmental conditions. “I learned how to identify recognized environmental conditions and write a professional Phase I Environmental Site Assessment in accordance with ASTM E1527 standards.” 

    Selecting the Old Easton Armory to perform a Phase I, Leigh and Hannah “were intrigued” by its rich history. While the site is currently listed as an office building, it operated as an Armory for the Pennsylvania National Guard from the early 1900s until the mid-1980s. “The previous operations of the site made the site investigation interesting because we were tasked with examining the threat of a release of military storage contaminants,” says Leigh.  

    “My first exposure to environmental engineering and site development was through an interest in an abandoned site in my hometown of Stamford. The site was situated on a 15-acre plot of commercial and industrial land that was home to gas stations, automobile shops and dry cleaners,” she explains.  

    Mill River, which ran through the site, was walled with concrete for years, blocking off the area from the rest of the city. The presence of a river “amplified the concerns related to exposure pathways and contamination,” says Leigh. “When I was younger, I would walk past the site and wonder if it could be rehabilitated and developed into something greater. Eventually, there were plans to turn this old industrial site into a thriving urban park, named Mill River Park. I eagerly applied to work as an intern at Mill River prior to my junior year of high school when the park was at its ending stages of development.”

    It was in this duty that Leigh was able to see the transformation of an abandoned site into an urban greenspace, witnessing firsthand the impact the site cleanup had on the neighborhood. She says that people now take walks on the trails, sit by the river and enjoy outdoor concerts at a park that previously was not safe for residential development. 

    “Living in Stamford and working on this park made me aware of all the environmental problems that are right in my hometown, but also gave me hope as to what contaminated sites could become,” she says. 

    Reflecting on her experience at Mill River Park, Leigh believes that this was what really motivated her to work in the civil and environmental engineering industry, showing her the importance of developing healthy and safe communities and encouraged her to enter into the field at Lafayette. 

    Additionally, while at Lafayette, she took a “great liking” to the Environmental Engineering class and was able to secure an internship with Langan in their environmental department. “At Langan, I helped write Phase I Environmental Site Assessments, participated in site walks, and assisted with groundwater and soil sampling activities for Phase II Site Investigations,” says Leigh. “I enjoyed the work I did with Langan, and wanted to gain more knowledge of the environmental engineering field. This motivated me to request to enroll in Professor Kney’s capstone class as a junior.” 

    Professor Kney states: “It certainly has been a challenging semester. Having support from organizations like BCONE and  ASTM certainly added value to the course by helping students connect their education to the jobs/academic future they’re preparing for. I believe working together with industry partners provides students the opportunity to see their future as well as jumpstart their career,” he says.

    Coler provided the team with some constructive criticism to their work by stating: “More evaluation of the dry cleaner as a potential offsite source of contamination and the mention of the site as a potential manufacturing facility was warranted. Also, the odd odor on the stained wood floor was a hint to evaluate the wood itself as a potential source as a result of it likely being treated with a hazardous chemical.”

    These are indeed points that future pros like Cook and Jacobsen will take to heart and roll with. “I am ultimately unsure of exactly what I would like to pursue as a career. I have found that I have many different interests in addition to civil engineering and I am working to find a field that helps combine these interests. I do know, however, that I would like to pursue a field related to sustainable site development, whether that be on the remediation or design side. My ultimate goal is to have a positive impact on whatever community I end up working in and I am encouraged to see where my career path with lead me.”

  • 20 Jul 2021 10:21 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Three time's a charm, CCNY Earth and Atmospheric Sciences professor secures coveted job training grant

    By Steve Dwyer 

    Dogged determination paid off handsomely this spring for Angelo Lampousis and his team at The City College of New York (CCNY) in Manhattan. 

    The BCONE board member and Ph.D., Earth and Atmospheric Sciences lecturer at CCNY, was thrilled to learn that his department had been one of three New York City entities (among 18 applying organizations) to receive a coveted grant for environmental job training—handed out by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

    Job training and workforce development are an important part of the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to advance economic opportunities and address environmental justice issues in underserved communities.

    In addition to grants awarded to CCNY, grants were allotted to St. Nick’s Alliance of Brooklyn and The HOPE Program Inc. of Brooklyn and the Bronx. All three awardees received an Environmental Workforce Development and Job Training grant (EWDJT) of or close to $200,000 for programs to create a skilled workforce in communities where brownfields assessment and cleanup activities are taking place.

    “We applied for this grant three times, and the fourth time we secured the funding,” says Lampousis, before departing for Athens, Greece in mid-June for a working vacation. “This [being denied grant] is typical as far as I know—you might fail but it provides time to improve your narrative and state your case. Mainly, you have to have resilience to keep trying. And we did improve our grant writing skills, honed them to make it more compelling—and we took advantage of review programs with folks in New York and other states who assist those who are seeking grants after failing.”

    The grant money has a two-prong purpose: It assists non-CCNY-students who need to complete continuing education (CE) in order to find work within the engineering and environmental fields—and have chosen CCNY to complete the CE course work that might consist of a couple days of either training or re-training. Grant money benefits CCNY engineering and environmental students who are dedicated to establishing a career in brownfield remediation. 

    BCONE can have a role in the job training grant, because after the first two years of student class work, students must then progress to real-world job placement. That’s where BCONE and its public- and private-sector members enter the picture, says Lampousis. “BCONE  will try to facilitate student job placement through member companies. I see BCONE’s contribution and role as significant during this third-year cycle,” says Lampousis.    

    If At First You Don’t Succeed….

    EPA’s brownfields job training grant program enables organizations to transform the lives of New Yorkers by providing individuals the opportunity “to gain meaningful long-term employment and a livable wage in an environmental field,” said Walter Mugdan, acting EPA Regional Administrator. “These three grantees do critical work to bring good paying jobs to communities across New York City that also help make them safer and healthier places to live and work.”

    Rather than filling local jobs with contractors from distant cities, the organizations offer residents of communities historically affected by pollution, economic disinvestment and contaminated brownfields properties an opportunity to gain the skills and certifications needed to secure local environmental work in their communities.

    Lampousis and CCNY is intent on following this model. But, securing the grant has not been easy. Speaking about the grant scoring process, Lampousis says a criteria is established by EPA based on a 100-point scale, with several officials grading grant essays. “We once registered an 84 of 100, but was not enough [to be awarded the job training grant],” he says, adding the grant narratives must be compelling about the way the money will be directed to enhance the growth of local communities served. 

    Over time, several of the organization that have secured an EWDJT grant have stepped up to guide organization that fell short—providing input on how they can improve their process and garner the grant the next time, says Lampousis.   

    He referred to a “leverage process” that can help secure grants. In this context, resources can come from external partners. In the case of CCNY, Lampousis says one organization affiliated with the college issues commercial driver’s licenses (CDLs). So, individuals taking a CE course can use it to secure a CDL—and in turn land jobs in the transportation area of brownfield remediation. 

    Indeed, Lampousis says that there are a lot of people who rely on CE training without going for a college degree, and the CCNY job training grant allows local, non-student residents to approach CCNY to complete CE courses quickly.  

    “South Bronx residents will be able to get the CE credits now and then start working. The local income will go up. Plus, people don’t have to pay for the CE courses, which is typically not free [elsewhere]. It can cost $800 if they do it on their own. We can offer far more CE courses—and do it for those who only need perhaps one or two days of training to move forward with their environmental or engineering job pursuit,” he says. 

    The EPA job training grant will also help Lampousis in his effort to deliver and enhance his geosciences and engineering course, which consists of 14-week semesters—all done to prepare students to enter the workforce in these two fields, preferably as brownfield practitioners.

    After having to offer the courses, “Phase I and Phase II Environmental Site Assessments,” in a remote environment due to COVID-19, Lampousis is eager to return to a live classroom setting at CCNY this fall. 

    Debuting in 2011, the courses were provided a bump in 2020 with a host of professional guest lecturers—many of them Brownfield Coalition of the Northeast members. The BCONE members were eager to volunteer their time and provide students with a snapshot and real-world advice about what it takes to be a brownfield professional. The course is typically held on Saturdays (10 am to 12 30 pm). 

    “With BCONE’s participation, we can then integrate many brownfield professionals into the mix, which I find is vital because our course is squarely focused on professional growth,” says Lampousis. 

    The course encompasses the entire process of environmental due diligence related to commercial real estate transactions and site characterization that ultimately leads to remedial evaluation and mitigation required for redevelopment of former industrial properties impacted with typical brownfield contaminants. 

    “I am confident that this 2021-2024 EWDJT grant, the first of its kind for CCNY, will critically strengthen the continuing education component on campus and leave a lasting legacy on professional training for years to come. Overall, for CCNY with its record of being an upward mobility machine, the EWDJT grant will help propel ever more low-income residents of the South Bronx and beyond into the middle class, while at the same time addressing ongoing environmental justice concerns.”

    EPA Job Training Grant Program Mark 23 Years 

    Since 1998, EPA’s Environmental Workforce Development and Job Training (EWDJT) grant program has awarded more than 335 grants. With these grants, 18,541 individuals have been trained and 13,751 have been placed in careers related to land remediation and environmental health and safety, with an average hourly wage of over $14.

    CCNY’s three-year $200,000 grant is designed to create a skilled workforce in communities where brownfields assessment and cleanup activities are taking place.

    Working in conjunction with the Office of Continuing and Professional Studies on campus, CCNY’s Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences will run the EWDJT program for up to 60 participants from the South Bronx starting this fall. 

    Training will cover the first two years, with job placement the primary focus of the third year—and BCONE’s will have a role in furthering that cause. Graduates will earn certification in various environmental fields, including:

    •    Hazardous waste operations and emergency response; 

    •    Environmental sampling and analysis; and 

    •    Other environmental health and safety training.

    Although it targets South Bronx residents, interested individuals from the five boroughs are welcome to apply for the program. Participants should be able to commit to attend the entire training. There is no age limit.

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