July 29, 2013

Standing at the Syracuse Community Health Center’s New Healthcare Campus Project, Gillibrand & Maffei Announces New Bipartisan Effort to Revitalize Inactive, Contaminated Sites

Legislation Would Provide Additional Tools And Resources To Clean Up And Rebuild On Brownfield Sites

Syracuse, NY – Standing with local leaders at the Syracuse Community Health Center’s new healthcare campus project, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a member of the Environment and Public Works Committee, and Congressman Dan Maffei announced a new bipartisan effort to reauthorize and improve programs to cleanup and rebuild on brownfield sites.  The Brownfields Utilization, Investment and Local Development (Build) Act, would jumpstart development efforts and provide additional resources and for sites in need of redevelopment. The measure would allow local municipalities and non-profit organizations access to more money, tools and resources as they work toward project completion as well as help to create and sustain jobs.

Congressional authorization for the Brownfield program lapsed at the end of 2006, leaving economic development opportunities to fall by the wayside.

“The Syracuse Community Health Center site is ripe with opportunity to help our economy grow,” Senator Gillibrand said. “This strong, bipartisan bill can unlock new investments to develop brownfield sites into usable spaces that can attract new businesses, support new jobs, and make more New York communities a great place to live, work and raise a family.”

“Spurring economic growth in Central New York so that we can create more jobs and strengthen our middle class is my top priority,” Rep. Dan Maffei said. “The BUILD act gives Central New York access to the tools and resources necessary to achieve these important goals by cleaning up and rebuilding Brownfield sites in our community. Central New York is the best place in the world to Iive, work, and raise a family and the BUILD act will help make sure it stays that way by cleaning up Brownfield sites and making sure our community remains an attractive place to do business. I look forward to continuing to work together with Senator Gillibrand to invest in our neighborhoods, attract more businesses and create new jobs in Central New York.”

“Syracuse knows the importance of addressing important environmental issues and how creative solutions from all sides can truly benefit the entire community,” said Syracuse Mayor Stephanie A. Miner. “Using the grants Senator Gillibrand is announcing today, we will work to expand the Syracuse Community Health Center, clearing blighted property in our community and expanding healthcare services to Syracuse residents who need them the most. This innovative use of tax credits will help accomplish multiple important goals for the people of Syracuse. We appreciate Senator Gillibrand’s leadership on environmental issues and consider her a valuable partner as we work together to build better neighborhoods in the City of Syracuse.”

 

“Syracuse Community Health Center’s plans to build a new health care campus is a perfect example of the kind of project the Brownfield Act will help to nurture and support,” said Charles Conole, chairman of the SCHC, Inc. Board of Directors.  “The Build Act of 2013 will help to transform vacant lots and brownfields into meaningful, quality neighborhood assets.   We look forward to working with Senator Gillibrand to improve the environment and public health in the community.”

 

While New York helped power the country through the industrial revolution, large manufacturers left behind contaminated land where they factories once stood. These abandoned sites – brownfields – must be cleaned up before new development can begin. There are between 450,000 and one million abandoned and contaminated sites in the United States, according to the Government Acceptability Office (GAO). Brownfield sites range in size from a half an acre to tens of acres that are located in both urban and rural areas. The redevelopment of these sites have proven to be beneficial to communities as they provide a boost to the economy through private investment and business development, job creation, community development and overall quality of life in the area.

 

The South Salina Street corridor just south of downtown (specifically between Burt St and Kennedy St) is a Brownfield Opportunity Area. While there are a variety of successful businesses along this corridor, there are also vacant land and brownfields. During the past few years, the City of Syracuse performed a targeted evaluation of this area which has been adversely affect by brownfields for decades. This included a detailed analysis of the project area (land use, zoning, transportation, and environmental conditions), public input and discussions on the area’s future, and an economic and market trends analysis.  Based on these analyses, redevelopment opportunities for both strategic sites and area wide recommendations were identified.

 

The Syracuse Community Health Center’s (SCHC) proposed development site was identified as a gateway location into downtown, which bridges the neighborhood and the City’s central business district, and is subsequently a priority redevelopment site.  Their proposal to expand their operations and construct a new facilitate within this targeted area will demolish an unsightly vacant building at the southern gateway into the City’s downtown, improve the environmental conditions of the site, expand public health services in our community, and encourage the redevelopment of other vacant site or buildings in the area to serve this growing medical campus.    

 

The BUILD Act builds on previously existing Brownfield initiatives by expanding the reach of these efforts and increasing the amount of funds applicants can request. Specifically, the legislation:

 

  • Recognizes that the cost of cleaning up past contamination is a barrier to bringing brownfield sites back into the market by increasing the funding ceiling for cleanup grants and allowing funds to be used for administrative costs.

 

  • Allows the Environmental Protection Agency to award multipurpose grants that will speed redevelopment by streamlining and increasing certainty on the cleanup process. This update recognizes that the redevelopment process is a complex, multistep effort that can include site inventory, characterization, assessment, planning, or remediation for one or more brownfields site through one grant. Securing upfront funding for the various phases of brownfields redevelopment—instead of having to seek funding for the different phases of the project—allows a community to work more closely with a developer to turn blighted properties into community assets.

 

  • Expands eligibility for site assessment grants to non-profit organizations. Currently, non-profits and community-based organizations are eligible for cleanup grants but not assessment grants. Expanding eligibility will better position communities since these non-profits are often in the best position to identify or prioritize sites and initiate redevelopment.

 

  • Allows local governments to apply for site assessment grants for properties that were acquired by a community before the creation of the brownfields program. This provision of the BUILD Act would allow more brownfields to be evaluated for contamination without eliminating the local government’s liability to clean up the site.

 

  • Incorporates elements of Senator Gillibrand’s Waterfront Brownfields Revitalization Act by identifying opportunities for redevelopment of abandoned, idled or underused industrial properties on waterfronts.

 

  • Makes clean energy projects at brownfield sites eligible for funding, including any facility that generates renewable electricity from wind, solar or geothermal.