by Colleen Kokas
Bucks County has long planned for a mix of industrial, residential and preserved open space and agricultural lands. BCONE’s recent educational program on November 16, 2022, discussed the past 30 years of addressing brownfield sites in the county -- as told through the first-hand experiences of Bob White, the former Executive Director of the Bucks County Redevelopment Authority for 24 years.
Woven throughout the many case studies of successfully transforming large and small industrial sites, Bob sent a clear message about how he achieved success. The first was to create a team of the various stakeholders involved, including local and state elected officials, the community and the regulatory agencies. The second was to communicate often to ensure that information is shared fully and timely. The third was to plan, plan, plan. That equates to having many sites in the pipeline, as you never know when the opportunity may arise to advance one of those properties closer to a completed cleanup or to vertical development. Bob shared a quote that reflects this appropriately, in that "if you fail to plan, you will have a plan that fails." Bob’s full story is captured in his book, "Repurposing the Past: How a Farm Boy and Marine Helped Give Bucks County a 21st-Century Facelift."
Bob emphasized the importance of Pennsylvania’s Act 2 Program in contributing to the success of repurposing sites. John Gross, PADEP Act 2 manager, spoke to the “mission creep” that is happening with the use of Act 2 within the agency. There has been a trend in other programs within PADEP using Act 2 as an enforcement mechanic to obtain compliance -- a use never intended by the Act’s passage.
John alerted the group to PADEP’s recent receipt of a USEPA Brownfield Assessment Grant for which they are developing a strategy for deploying those funds. PADEP’s initial thoughts are to provide monies to small towns that do not have the capacity to assess sites and to evaluate retired coal-fired power plants for future green energy-related projects.
The discussions were held at Aldie Mansion, a property owned and occupied by the Heritage Conservancy, a nonprofit agency with a mission that nicely complements the mission of addressing brownfields. The Heritage Conservancy’s President and CEO, Bill Kunze, welcomed BCONE to the mansion, and outlined the agency’s work of preserving and protecting significant open spaces, natural resources, and our historic heritage. In its 60+ years, the Heritage Conservancy has facilitated the protected over 15,000 acres of land to ensure our enjoyment to protect water quality and to ensure our future enjoyment of nature. For more information on the Heritage Conservancy, or if you are interested in becoming a member, go to https://heritageconservancy.org/ or contact BCONE member and moderator of the event, Brian Clark (Brian.Clark@bipc.com), who serves on the Heritage Conservancy’s board.
Posted November 28, 2022