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  • 05 Dec 2019 10:31 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    You Are Invited to Be Part of the Northeast’s Premier Brownfields Conference

    Are you a brownfield professional? Are you part of an organization that works in brownfields redevelopment or community sustainability? Do you design, develop, or implement brownfields solutions? Then you should be presenting at the Northeast Sustainable Communities Workshop (NSCW) 2020!

    NSCW is the premier metropolitan workshop on identifying sustainable goals and strategies for revitalizing communities and brownfields. It is being held this year on May 5th at a very exciting location; the War Memorial in Trenton, NJ. NSCW is like no other conference you've been a part of: PowerPoint presentations are sparse and image-only; speakers are concise, yet informative; and, there is plenty of time in each session for dialogue between attendees, speakers, and moderators.

    BCONE is currently accepting proposals for presentations at our 11th annual conference. NSCW organizers are looking for proposals related to sustainability. Submissions may address either broad or niche areas; research projects or case studies; management and policy challenges; and local, regional, or national issues. Back by popular demand is our poster competition allowing presenters to showcase their research; and new this year, we are offering an amazing opportunity with the Municipal Opportunity Showcase that gives cities, towns, departments and committees the opportunity to promote current sites available for redevelopment in their local communities.

    How Do I Submit a Session Idea?

    There are Panel Options for the Plenary sessions, 60- and 30-Minute sessions, 5-Minute Lighting Talks; and Poster submissions, as well as submissions for the Municipal Opportunity Showcase!

    To submit, click on this link for instructions and this link to complete the application form for the 60-, 50-, 30-minute Workshops and 5-minute Lightning Talks. For Poster submissions, click here. For Municipal Opportunity Showcase submissions, click here

    The Call for Session Topics is open until December 20, 2019.

  • 28 Oct 2019 2:20 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    By Steve Dwyer 

    The impartial judges who selected a University of Connecticut brownfield project worthy of scholarship money back in the winter are seeing their selection become double-reinforced. 

    A group of four UCONN students conducted field work in the town of Stafford, Conn.—carrying out primarily phase investigations 1,2 and 3, and for their efforts secured $2,000 from BCONE as part of the Charlie Bartsch Brownfield Scholarship. 

    In September, the focus was back on the community of Stafford when U.S. EPA selected the community for a Brownfields Assessment Grant. The target area for the grant is downtown and northeast areas of Stafford—amounting to $221,000 for hazardous substances and $79,000 for petroleum.

    Community-wide hazardous substances grant funds are expected to be used to conduct three Phase I and four Phase II environmental site assessments and prepare one cleanup plan. Community-wide petroleum grant funds will be used to conduct one Phase I and one Phase II environmental site assessment and to prepare one cleanup plan. Grant funds also will be used to prepare a reuse plan or market analysis for two sites and conduct community outreach activities. 

    BCONE Board member Mark Lewis, Brownfields Coordinator, Connecticut Dept. of Energy & Environmental Protection, Office of Constituent Affairs and Land Management, was one of three judges that picked the UCONN team that worked in Stafford.

    “The students presented the results of their research very convincingly, and also delivered a great verbal presentation. The combination made it clear to the three judges that Stafford’s project was the winner among several very deserving candidates,” says Lewis. “And it turned out that the EPA agreed with us, in the context of awarding the town the grant money.”

    Lewis knows the narrative of Stafford. He says that the town that has been known for several mill properties fell on difficult times when mills closed. But a rebirth ensued in 2014 and now a grant from EPA has been bestowed to allow it to continue its ambitious road to prosperity. 

    “Years ago, the town entered into our (state of Conn.) abandoned brownfield program, but in 2014 an angel investor acquired one of the textile mills that had been shuttered and put it back online—in turn putting a lot of people back to work and helping infuse the town several ways, including economically,” says Lewis, about a mill that sees its production used by U.S. military operations. 

    Starting with the UCONN students performing the upfront work, the work now set to commence thanks to the EPA grant will  help identify the best, most cost-effective way to clean up other abandoned former brownfields. “This lays the groundwork on creating a roadmap on what steps need to be taken for the cleanup and what steps are needed to put sites back into productive use,” says Lewis. “This grant also could lay the groundwork for further state, local and federal financing to the town. The grant Stafford received essentially take towns that are ‘stuck’ and makes them ‘unstuck.’”  

    Lewis adds that Stafford is “a fairly typical mill town in north central Connecticut. I would say what we’re really trying to do is use the same Yankee ingenuity that helped Connecticut become a leader in the industrial revolution to being a leader in cleaning up abandoned sites.”

    Students Paved The Way  

    You could say that the four UCONN students—Connor Oakes, Chris Falk, Matthew McKenna and Caressa Wakeman—laid the groundwork for the EPA grant being provided to Stafford. No doubt that the scholarship shone a light on the community—and those at EPA and beyond took notice. 

    The UCONN foursome, who were each awarded $500 to go towards their educations, visited Stafford five times during the fall 2018 semester, conducted phone work and captured many details about the community and the current state of brownfields by getting documents from town hall. After conducting Phase investigations 1,2 and 3, they prepared the assessment grant and gave a 15-minutes presentation in class about their efforts.

    The team identified five brownfield sites in Stafford, a town of about 12,000 residents. One was an old school with incidence of asbestos and lead paint, while two were textile mills. They were also in close proximity to waterways. 

    The students were studying in UCONN’s CT Brownfields Initiative, Dept. of Civil & Environmental Engineering, under the direction of Dr. Nefeli Bompoti, Ph.D., assistant research professor, and Marisa Chrysochoou, Ph.D., director, Connecticut Brownfields Initiative, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering.

    In addition to Lewis, the other two judges were Don Friday, project manager at the CT Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD), and Sarah Trombetta, senior project manager at TRC Companies.

    All total, 151 grant were awards amounting to $64.6 million in EPA Brownfields funding through the Multipurpose, Assessment, and Cleanup (MAC) Grant Programs. These funds will aid under-served and economically disadvantaged communities in Opportunity Zones and other parts of the country in assessing and cleaning up abandoned industrial and commercial properties. Forty-percent of the communities selected for funding will receive assistance for the first time. 

    Lewis says that preparing grants to have a chance for the capital is a challenge. “In many small towns—in Connecticut and elsewhere—municipal staffs are stretched very thin, and lack the proper resources to prepare grants to the letter of completion,” he says. “These EPA grants for brownfields are also extremely competitive. Basically, there are a lot of dedicated people but only so many hours in the day (to attend to grant writing preparation).” 

    You could say that the UCONN students helped the town out on the front-end work for the grant with the submission of their report, which no doubt was rich with content ultimately used in the grant proposal.  

    Lewis says that the UCONN students not only were pleased about receiving scholarship money and receiving real-world experience, but “they were able to see that their efforts actually made a difference for a local community, as witnessed by the EPA grant in September.” 

  • 09 Sep 2019 1:43 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Many thanks to BCONE Board Member Alan Miller of NJDEP for presenting on the CCI and thanks also to Advisory Council Member Neil Yoskin, Esq. of Cullen and Dykman LLP for his wonderful writeup.  If you missed the breakfast and the recent newspaper coverage about the CCI, here is what you need to know about the program.

    The Community Collaborative Initiative (CCI) originated organically in the late 2000s from NJDEP’s Brownfield Development Area (BDA) in Camden, NJ.  BDA manager Frank McLaughlin of DEP began to integrate brownfields redevelopment with other environmental challenges like combined sewage overflow  (CSO) flooding and lack of community access to the waterfront. It was expanded to other cities as a pilot program: DEP looked for locations where BDAs and CSOs overlapped, and identified eleven candidate cities, notably Perth Amboy and Trenton.  CCI is undergoing a major expansion into several cities in Southern New Jersey this month (September, 2019).

    The CCI Program helps make  good projects great and  addresses environmental challenges, economic development, and quality of life issues. The CCI approach involves DEP as a partner, not a regulator. One of the  significant differences between CCI and other programs is that a DEP representative is embedded as part of the team. Alan Miller, for example,  is embedded in Bayonne. Also, the municipality sets the CCI priorities, not DEP.

    CCI is a collaborative process: across local and state government and across agencies.  It is housed in DEP’s  Site Remediation Program for administrative purposes and reports to Director Ken Kloo.  Another state organization, the Economic Development Authority (EDA) has funded a program expansion.  Current CEO of EDA, Tim Sullivan, has a strong background in brownfields from his experience in NY and CT and BCONE has had the pleasure of working with Mr. Sullivan over the years in his many roles. EDA and DEP are partners on many programs, including brownfield loans and grants. The Department of Community Affairs’ (DCA) Division of Local Government Services can play a role in the process, as can qualified Opportunity Zones.

  • 10 Jun 2019 1:44 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    By: Sue Boyle, GEI Consultants and Executive Director, BCONE and Barry Hersh, NYU Schack Institute of Real Estate

    The genesis of the NSCW was the realization that brownfield redevelopment was a regional market; metro New York including NYC and suburbs and parts of CT, NJ and PA. NSCW founders also saw early, before Superstorm Sandy, the connections between sustainable and resilient communities and brownfield redevelopment. A predecessor was called Tri-State Brownfield Conference, but NSCW founders wanted real, free-flowing participation; with many panels, time for discussions, and minimal use of PowerPoints. NSCW is self-sustaining, by and for Brownfielders; affordable- especially for community organizations and government officials, led by significant volunteer effort, with limited contracted staff assistance. 

    NSCW's goal has always been to break new ground, offer new ideas and new concepts on the topics of sustainability, collaboration and leverage, contamination, resiliency, redevelopment challenges, remediation technology, and their impact on community revitalization. Attendees include a vibrant mix of representatives from communities, government, higher education, professional organizations, and laboratories, as well as attorneys, developers, contractors, and consultants. 

    NSCW was never about "stars," but over the years we’ve heard from some notable leaders; the inimitable Charlie Bartsch, Mathy Stanislaus then new Assistant Administrator at USEPA’s OSWER, Ed Chu then of White House Council on Environmental Quality, David Lloyd and others from USEPA. Also numerous NJ, NY and CT State commissioners, New York City’s first OER Director Dan Walsh several times, plus other officials and private brownfield redevelopers such as Joe Cotter, George Vallone and Alexander Durst. For our 10th anniversary we are, as we did the first NSCW, having a representative from the Federal Reserve Bank. 

    Who were the pioneers who created NSCW? Let’s start with Lee Ilan of NY and Sue Boyle NJ, who have volunteered to plan and implement all ten NSCWs and the three Tri-States that preceded. Other original team members over the decade plus include Michael Taylor CT, Colleen Kokas NJ, Gary Rozmus NY, Larry Schnapf NY, Barry Hersh CT, Beth Barton CT, Lee Hoffman CT, Brian Clark PA, and Jill Gaito PA. NJ Society of Women Environmental Professionals (SWEP) was the “official” organizational backstop for contracts in the early years and the long-time sponsor of the networking receptions each year thanks to Jeanne Mroczk

    Thank you to all of the current, multi-year volunteers, especially Elizabeth Limbrick and Rick Shoyer. Joining them: Jeff Entin, Wanda Monahan, Geoff Forrest, Alan Miller, Sharon McSwieney, Jen Carling, Rob Crespi, Ben Alter, and Trevan Houser. Others who were multi-year, active volunteers in the past include Shira Gidding Shaul and Sarit Platkin of NY, Cristin Mustillo NJ, Hannah Moore NY, Tim Kinsella NJ, Rick Gimello NJ, Jim Mack NJ, Chelsea Albucher NJ, Lya Thoedoratos of USEPA Region 2, Steve Danyew, and Skelly Holmbeck.

    NSCW always sought locations with good mass transit: 2009 and 2010 were held at NJIT, Newark NJ; we experimented with a half-day session in 2011 at Housatonic Community College, Bridgeport, CT; and 2012 returned to the Big Apple at John Jay College as NSCW, not Tri-State. The goal was to move around geographically in the region, but it also became clear that the location needed to be close to the core group of volunteers, which is why NJ is the most frequent location. BCONE as an incorporated non-profit organization took NSCW under its wing 2014 for contractual, financial and other infrastructure necessities and added limited but important contracted professional staff resources to supplement our tireless volunteers. NSCW returned to NJ in 2014 at the Liberty Science Center, Jersey City; we crossed the Hudson River again in 2015 to hold NSCW downtown at the Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House, New York City (both were spectacular venues); and we found our home at NJIT for 2016 - 2019. NJIT has been a supportive partner for NSCW and BCONE, thanks to Colette Santasieri, Sean Vroom and Elizabeth Limbrick. Our volunteers and contracted staff are primarily based in NJ so the location works well for their busy schedules. BCONE welcomes events in CT, NY and/or PA if there is volunteer infrastructure to support the event location.

    NSCW began its annual awards in 2017, only a couple of years ago. We also began providing Continuing Education Credits in multiple states thanks to the Rutgers Continuing Education program’s Pamela Springard-Mayer.

    So this 10th Anniversary is worth a walk down the NSCW memory lane and a slice of cake!

    Thank you to Lee Ilan, Colleen Kokas, and Elizabeth Limbrick for providing their memories and electronic files!

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