July 29, 2013

Standing in Sheridan Hollow, Gillibrand & Tonko Announce New Bipartisan Effort to Revitalize Inactive, Contaminated Sites

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

Albany, NY – Standing with local leaders in Sheridan Hollow, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a member of the Environment and Public Works Committee, and Congressman Paul Tonko 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 Sheridan Hollow neighborhood of Albany 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.”

“Brownfield redevelopment helps us meet our goals of putting people back to work, improving our aging infrastructure, and cleaning up our environment,” U.S. Representative Paul Tonko said. "Throughout our region, a number of cities and towns are grappling with the legacy of our industrial past.  They need support to revitalize the waterfronts in Arbor Hill, Sheridan Hollow, and other communities in the Capital District. Our waterfronts can once again make a strong contribution to the region's economy.  The Brownfields Program combines federal resources with those of state and local governments to get these important projects moving.”

 

“It is my honor to support Senator Gillibrand today as she announces the BUILD Act,” City of Albany Mayor Jerry Jennings said. "The Act will be a victory for economic development in cities like Albany. The BUILD Act will grant stakeholders access to additional tools, resources and funds to better perform site remediation to brownfields - enhancing our ability to revitalize and renew strategic, underutilized properties. This Act demonstrates how smart, Federal initiatives can directly benefit local neighborhoods. The BUILD Act will complement our local and regional revitalization strategies, leveraging investment and catalyzing high-impact projects. I applaud Senator Gillibrand for her dedication to strengthening our communities, and look forward to putting the BUILD Act to good use in Albany.”

 

“The BUILD Act will provide Albany County with yet another tool for economic development,” Dan McCoy, Albany County Executive said. “By expanding eligibility, increasing funding in remediation grants and allowing administrative costs to be covered, this act makes it easier and more attractive for those who are willing to invest and clean up a former industrial site.  Thank you, Senator Gillibrand, for co-sponsoring this and creating opportunities for economic growth.”

 

“The Community Loan Fund of the Capital Region is a nonprofit financial institution with a community development mission. We are proud to be a Sheridan Hollow Opportunities Area partner with the City of Albany and other community-based nonprofit groups, including the Affordable Housing Partnership. On behalf of our nonprofit partners, we are grateful for Senator Gillibrand’s timely efforts to expand the eligibility of important resources for neighborhoods like Sheridan Hollow, our home for the last 15 years,” Bob Radliff, Executive Director of the Community Loan Fund of the Capital Region said. “Resources available through the BUILD Act are critical for strategic planning purposes, meaningful community engagement, proper environmental assessments and sound feasibility analyses. These tools are critical for identifying economic development, housing and infrastructure needs and opportunities. Thanks to Senator Gillibrand’s leadership, we are more hopeful than ever that the hard work of neighborhood residents, small businesses, public officials and nonprofit groups will result in the emergence of the Sheridan Hollow neighborhood as an increasingly desirable place to live and work.”

 

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.

 

Through its recently-adopted Albany 2030 Comprehensive Plan, the City of Albany has identified seven brownfield opportunity areas including two key, high-impact locations highlighting projects that will support revitalization efforts in the City's neighborhood strategy areas.  Albany understands that its downtown and waterfront are critical to both local economic development as well as regional vitality. Currently, Albany is undertaking a waterfront master plan and strategic assessment of opportunities in the downtown core. The City is working with the private sector and nonprofit partners to leverage these plans into significant private investment and public improvements. The BUILD Act will complement these efforts and help Albany realize the full potential of the City and its waterfront.

 

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.