Printer Friendly Format Email a Friend

PR- 340-10
August 5, 2010


Mayor Bloomberg Launches Nation's First Municipal Brownfield Cleanup Program

Launch Completes Brownfield Chapter of PlaNYC; First Chapter of Plan to be Completed

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Pete Grannis today announced a landmark agreement that paves the way for the City to operate its own brownfield cleanup program. Following the execution of the agreement, the Mayor launched the New York City Brownfield Cleanup Program, the first municipally-run brownfield cleanup program in the nation. The new program will be run by the Mayor’s Office of Environmental Remediation. The announcements were made at a vacant property at Stillwell Avenue and Pelham Parkway South in the Bronx, the site of the future Pelham Parkway Towers, the first project to use the new program. Brownfields are vacant or underutilized properties where the redevelopment or reuse is complicated by environmental contamination. The Memorandum of Agreement between DEC and New York City provides for high quality cleanups under the city-managed program, as well as coordination of investigations and cleanup projects between the State and City. It also offers liability incentives to encourage developers to use the new City program.

“Our new brownfields program will lead to clean-ups of long-blighted eyesores that drag down a neighborhood’s property values, image, and safety,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “At the same time, by complying with the new City clean-up requirements, developers will get the certainty and predictability they need in order to make investments and go forward with projects. This first in the nation initiative will allow us to create more jobs, housing and open space. I’d like to thank Commissioner Grannis for helping us to get this program up and running.”

“This innovative brownfield partnership will be another valuable tool offered by New York to clean up contaminated sites and encourage private investment,” said Commissioner Grannis. “When participants work with Mayor Bloomberg’s staff to redevelop a site, the community will know that the contamination will be addressed properly and meet the state’s stringent standards. We look forward to continuing to work together to spur economic growth and protect communities and the environment throughout the City.”

The City’s Brownfield Cleanup Program will enable owners and developers to investigate, cleanup and redevelop properties with light to moderate levels of contamination under city oversight. The program helps facilitate and speed the cleanup process and ensures a high level of protection of public health and the environment. Some of the sites it will handle are not eligible for existing State programs. The City program seeks to end ‘self-directed cleanups’ or cleanups managed by developers themselves without government oversight. The announcement follows an announcement by Mayor Bloomberg on June 21 of the launch of the City’s Brownfield Incentive Grant (BIG) Program which provides grants to offset some of the costs of investigation and remediation of contaminated property prior to redevelopment.

The Mayor also announced the completion of all eleven initiatives laid out in the brownfield chapter of PlaNYC, the City’s long-term vision for a greener, greater New York. Brownfields is the first chapter in the 30-year plan to be completed.

In addition to the new city-run cleanup program, initiatives in PlaNYC that have already been completed include establishment of a brownfield office in the Mayor’s Office (OER), creation of incentive programs, including a brownfield grant program; a LEED-type property certification program for cleaned properties; programs to help developers identify brownfield sites, speed investigation and cleanup, and address property liability; a series of programs dedicated to community service and education; and support for community brownfield planning.

“Too often the barrier to remediation of brownfield sites is not the contamination itself, but the unpredictability of the future regulatory regime,” said Deputy Mayor Stephen Goldsmith. “The program we are announcing today helps remove that uncertainty, therefore speeding up development without imposing elaborate and unnecessary rules.”

“The Mayor has delivered on his promise in PlaNYC to build programs to unlock the potential of contaminated land,” said Daniel Walsh, Director of Office of Environmental Remediation. “To do this, we have relied on the help of community leaders and our colleagues at DEC. Now that the programs are in place, its time to get down to business and clean up properties so that the rewards can be enjoyed by all New Yorkers.”

“I’ve always believed that the City of New York needed to take an active role in the cleanup of its brownfields properties,” said Council Member James F. Gennaro. “That’s why I supported Mayor Bloomberg’s visionary PlaNYC and its comprehensive brownfields chapter and, with that as my inspiration, authored the City’s Brownfields Law which passed the City Council under Speaker Christine Quinn’s leadership in 2009. And it’s why I supported the agreement between the City and DEC this summer.  Today I am very pleased to see that the City Council’s collaboration with Mayor Bloomberg and his team has helped achieve all eleven PlaNYC Brownfields Initiatives. I applaud the Mayor and his environmental team on a job well done.”

“By partnering together at both the city and state level we can regenerate and revitalize struggling neighborhoods during this tough economic time,” said State Senator and Deputy Majority Leader Jeff Klein. “I commend Mayor Bloomberg and Commissioner Grannis for developing this program and look forward to working together to improve the quality of life in communities throughout my district and the Bronx for many years to come.”

“Brownfields have been a problem in many neighborhoods throughout New York City in the past, but with the City Brownfield Cleanup Program we are now on the road to recovering thousands of acres of land for reuse and redevelopment,” said Assemblywoman Naomi Rivera. “It is a monumental occasion to have the future home of Pelham Parkway Towers act as the first development to use the new program.  During these unprecedented fiscal challenges hard-working New York families face on a daily basis, brownfields clean-ups and reconstructions offer a glimpse of what communities who have been adversely affected by these vacant lots can become.  We are all working towards a better, cleaner New York, and brownfields clean-up is an essential investment.”

“Having an effective city-run brownfield cleanup program is essential to New York City,” said Jim Tripp, Senior Counsel, Environmental Defense Fund. “The City’s agreement with DEC serves to strengthen the City’s cleanup program while ensuring that State standards for cleanup programs are still met. Most importantly, the added oversight provided by the City under this program will assure that NYC’s brownfields are dealt with more quickly, more efficiently and more effectively.”

“The Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY) supports the New York City Local Brownfield Cleanup Program because it will encourage cleanup and redevelopment of more brownfield sites in the City of New York,” said Steven Spinola, President of REBNY. “These sites will now have an opportunity to move ahead with a high-quality cleanup that is monitored by a government environmental agency and will result in the issuance of vital liability protection.”

“New York City has thousands of acres of brownfields that need to be cleaned up and redeveloped,” said Kathryn S. Wylde, President and CEO of the Partnership for New York City. “This program, the first of its kind in the country, will accelerate the clean up of these contaminated sites, create jobs in the construction industry where there is 30 percent unemployment, and contribute to New York State's overall economic activities.”

“Low-income communities suffer from the environmental injustice of a disproportionate number of brownfield sites,” said Marcia Bystryn, Executive Director of the New York League of Conservation Voters. “These communities have been plagued by unregulated and infrequent brownfield cleanups due to a lack of capital, uneven standards and no regulatory oversight. The City’s new brownfield cleanup program overcomes these challenges by providing transparency and opportunities for public participation in cleanups. Further, cleanup processes will be consistent with New York State standards, both in regard to remedies selected and cleanups conducted, and will ensure that cleanups in low-income communities will be as protective as cleanups elsewhere.”

“Particularly during these difficult economic times, a New York City brownfield cleanup program that prioritizes community-led proposals for brownfield redevelopment is essential to revitalizing the neighborhoods that have for too long been burdened with a disproportionate number of brownfield sites and the decay and disinvestment associated with those sites,” said Eddie Bautista, Executive Director of the New York City Environmental Justice Alliance.

“New Partners for Community Revitalization (NPCR) has long advocated for a strong City response to NYC’s brownfield challenges because too many self-directed cleanups have been conducted in NYC without any regulatory oversight or community participation,” said NPCR Executive Director Jody Kass. “We strongly support the City’s new brownfield cleanup program because it will encourage more cleanups of brownfields in poor communities and these cleanups, under the oversight of the OER, will be as clean as those conducted in other parts of the state under the state brownfield cleanup program.”

The New York City Brownfield Cleanup Program Report can be downloaded at For more information contact the Mayor’s Office of Environmental Remediation by calling 311.


Stu Loeser / Jason Post   (212) 788-2958

Maureen Wren (NYS DEC)   (518) 402-8000

More Resources
View the photos
Watch the video in low or high bandwidth