Conn. Brownfield Project Revives Derelict Sites

Bridgeport, Conn. - The city of Bridgeport, Conn., has received a $200,000 grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to begin pilot brownfield redevelopment efforts.

The federal project aims to return derelict commercial and industrial properties to productive use. By considering use-based cleanup standards, the program identifies properties with redevelopment value. The other participants in the EPA program are Cuyahoga County, Ohio, and Richmond, Va.

"Fear of environmental liability has compelled companies to look for pristine sites, more often in suburban areas, rather than chance the cleanup costs for potentially contaminated urban properties," said Stephen G. Lewis, vice president and New England region manager of Roy F. Weston Inc., Wilmington, Mass., which is teaming with Asset Management Solutions Inc., Bridgeport, Conn., and the TPA Design Group, New Haven, Conn., to conduct the Bridgeport pilot. "Through brownfield projects, federal state and local cooperation can help turn those long-neglected industrial sites into active contributors to the local economy and, at the same time, save undeveloped areas."

Working with city of Bridgeport officials and a civic task force, the team will determine the most appropriate properties for redevelopment in three of the city's industrial areas. After an initial assessment, 25 candidates will be selected for more detailed analyses. Next, the team will develop a remediation and redevelopment strategy for two to six sites.

Benefits of EPA's brownfield initiative include stimulation of the local job market, increased municipal tax base and improved quality of neighborhood life, according to the project's director. It also reenergizes the city infrastructures, transportation networks and skilled labor pools already in place, he said.