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September 12, 2011


EPA Cites City’s Program as a Model for Other Cities

Program Revitalizes Neighborhoods by Cleaning Sites – Creating Jobs, Building Affordable Housing and Developing Open Space, Primarily in Low-Income Neighborhoods

(Photo Credit: Edward Reed)

            Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Deputy Mayor for Operations Cas Holloway and Mayor’s Office of Environmental Remediation Director Dr. Daniel Walsh today announced that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has formally recognized the New York City Brownfield Cleanup Program – the first time the EPA ever has recognized a municipal brownfield program. The City’s brownfield program helps land owners and developers clean up contaminated properties and facilitates redevelopment, with a focus on blighted properties in low-income neighborhoods. The formal EPA recognition enables the City to use Federal brownfield grants for site investigation and cleanup activities. The City’s program is the first of its kind in the nation and is a central component of PlaNYC, Mayor Bloomberg’s comprehensive sustainability blueprint for a greener, greater city. Previously, brownfield cleanup programs were operated only by State governments and the EPA’s recognition follows New York State’s formal recognition of New York City’s program last year. The EPA noted the City’s Brownfield Cleanup Program and its collaboration with New York State was a model it would encourage other municipalities across the country to follow. The EPA also recognized the City’s unique and effective programs to promote citizen participation and community planning in cleanup and redevelopment of brownfield properties. The City’s Brownfield Cleanup Program currently is working to cleanup 22 blighted properties across the city, which will help revitalize those locations and create more than 1,000 new jobs and lead to more than $300 million in new development.

            “The City’s Brownfield Cleanup Program is a first of its kind in the nation, and we are using the cleanup program to revitalize communities and create local jobs, primarily in low-income neighborhoods,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “Our unique program took a major step forward last year when New York State agreed to support the program. And now with Federal support of the program, we can clean up and redevelop more vacant land and create new businesses and new jobs, build affordable housing and develop more open space.”

            “The EPA’s formal recognition of the New York City Brownfield Cleanup Program is going to help us accelerate the program,” said Deputy Mayor Holloway. “State recognition and liability protection gave us the initial ability to advance the program, with 22 new developments applying to the program in the first seven months. The EPA recognition will further improve the confidence land owners and developers have in our cleanup program and increase the number of locations we can remediate – turning blighted sites into engines of job creation.”

            “We’ve worked hard to develop the Brownfield Cleanup Program and it’s gratifying to receive formal recognition from the EPA,” said Mayor’s Office of Environmental Remediation Director Walsh. “Under Mayor Bloomberg’s leadership, we set out to build a high-quality brownfield cleanup program that would revitalize neighborhoods in our city. We put our emphasis on low-income communities, where our resources would have the greatest impact, including parts of Harlem, the South Bronx, Williamsburg and central Brooklyn. Now that EPA has recognized our program, we will be able to target more communities throughout the city.” 

            The New York City Brownfield Cleanup Program began operation in January of 2011 and the program is run by the Mayor’s Office of Environmental Remediation. In the program’s first seven months, 22 projects have applied to the program and 18 have been approved for  cleanup. The remaining four projects are expected to begin by early Fall. The 22 projects will remediate a total of 35 lots and will enable 1.25 million square feet of new development, including more than 480,000 square feet of new retail, commercial and office space and 490 units of new housing – half of which will be affordable housing. Most of the properties have been vacant for several years or more prior to becoming a part of the City’s program. The new developments created from previously unusable land are expected to generate more than 1,000 new permanent jobs. The City’s program focuses its resources on low-income communities, where turning blighted space into productive locations provides the greatest community benefit.

            “The EPA’s recognition of the city’s Brownfield Cleanup Program gives low-income neighborhoods and communities of color a more powerful tool as they work to attract investment,” said Eddie Bautista, Executive Director of the New York City Environmental Justice Alliance.  “A cleanup program that has the confidence of all levels of government will encourage cleanup of neglected sites and bring much-needed jobs, affordable housing, and important services to underserved areas.”

            “Federal recognition of the City’s cleanup program will make builders more likely to use the City program for their projects,” said Steven Spinola, President of the Real Estate Board of New York. “Accelerating the cleanup and reuse of vacant sites will improve the environment in our communities and increase tax revenue for the city. I am pleased that more than 20 projects have already applied to the city program since January, and I will convey to the development community the advantages of using the city cleanup program for their projects.”

            “Now that there is Federal recognition of this unique program, developers and landowners will have the additional incentive to clean up brownfields,” said Kathryn Wylde, President & CEO of the Partnership for New York City. “As a result, underutilized land across the city will be transformed into housing, green space, and businesses – leading to the creation of jobs and overall economic growth in all five boroughs.”

            “For years, poor communities have suffered from the environmental injustice of a disproportionate number of brownfield sites and the ongoing dumping, decay and disinvestment that typically accompanies these abandoned eyesores,” said Jody Kass, Executive Director of the nonprofit New Partners for Community Revitalization.  “The EPA’s acknowledgment of the city’s regulatory program will strengthen its ability to take full advantage of federal brownfield resources.  This landmark Federal-City arrangement is an example of the cooperation that is needed across government to maximize limited resources.”

Contact:        Stu Loeser/Marc La Vorgna        (212) 788-2958





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