Reflecting a Community’s Vision

A ???brownfield??? is vacant or underused real property that is, or perceived to be, contaminated.?? Developers and the public are reluctant to invest in a brownfield because of potential contamination.?? Consequently, with this reluctance comes neglect.?? Given the historic industrial use, and the 1978 ExxonMobil oil spill, the land surrounding Newtown Creek is undergoing a slow redevelopment.

In 2008, the New York Department of State gave the Newtown Creek Alliance, the Greenpoint Manufacturing and Design Center, and Riverkeeper, a Brownfields Opportunity Area (BOA) grant for community-driven brownfields planning.?? The funding is used to facilitate redevelopment opportunities by assessing the potential contaminated sites and the problems it poses on the community in the area.?? The BOA also seeks to build a shared vision on the future uses of brownfield sites that may revitalize the neighborhoods.

This Thursday, on Sept. 27, I will be attending a Newtown Creek Alliance meeting.?? I am eager to discover who or what organizations make up the Newtown Creek community, what the community envisions for itself, what conflicts arise, if any, and how those conflicts are resolved.

As far as I can tell, the BOA program is a step in the right direction towards equitable principals of environmental justice.?? Community members have a direct role in determining how properties can be cleaned up and redeveloped to reflect the vision they have for themselves.?? Redevelopment no longer solely mirrors the economic interests of industrial practices.