Brownfields – Public Involvement
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It is the public’s money that provides critical leverage in Brownfields revitalization. Without grants for environmental assessments or cleanup funding or tax incentives, many Brownfields sites would remain unkempt. Municipal staffs are public employees whose actions in the Brownfields process must be transparent. Regulators too must share findings and answer an enormous range of technically challenging health and ecological questions. The press seems to find stories of environmental resolution worthy copy. Their questions could be difficult to manage when the property owner may be wrestling with the responsibilities and liabilities of potential site contamination. Sometimes, in neighbourhood meetings of directly effected parties, the whole process is characterized as being self serving for developers, bureaucratic, costly and time consuming and indifferent to the real concerns of the public. The charge for all parties involved in Brownfields redevelopment is to foster the public good by resolving ecological and human health risks and fostering economic development to increase taxes and employment. A trusted and effective process can assist Brownfields resolution. Time delays from litigation can be minimized. Infrastructure improvements are more likely to receive favourable bonding votes. Sophisticated and able developers are more likely to stay committed. This paper will be about developing just such a favourable process. Keywords: grants, leverage, bonding, increased taxes, process, trust, liability. 1 Brownfields: developing a public process The public bears the burden of Brownfields. They endure the health risks, suffer the loss of services not provided because of diminished tax rolls, and experience the deflating presence of blight. If the sites are to be returned to beneficial reuse, public support is critical.
grants, leverage, bonding, increased taxes, process, trust, liability.