December 05 2011

Brownfield Opportunity Areas (BOA) Program in New York City

Brownfields are underused or vacant plots of land that remain undeveloped because of fears that they may have been contaminated by industrial or commercial use in the past. These sites are not always actually contaminated. 

However, these fears often prevent property owners from obtaining financial support from banks and developers in order to reclaim these sites.  Thus, many brownfields remain neglected. These sites are a concern within the realms of urban planning and environmental design.

Recently, in New York City, urban planners, environmental nonprofits, and other community-based organizations have been stepping up to the plate and designing sustainable strategies to renew these sites. In addition, state and local governments have offered assistance to groups committed to cleaning up these polluted sites.  Through the Brownfield Opportunity Areas (BOA) Program, financial and technical support is provided to municipalities and community-based organizations via the Department of State (DOS). Funding can be applied to complete revitalization, site assessments, and implementation strategies for strategic brownfield sites as well as areas affected by them.

The positive impact of New York’s BOA program in encouraging sustainability has been particularly influential in Newtown Creek, one of the New York City’s most contaminated sites, which is located between Brooklyn and Queens and is flanked by the neighborhoods of Greenpoint, Long  Island City, East Williamsburg, and West Maspeth.

Aside from past and present industrial dumping, there are currently twenty-three active combined sewer outfalls (CSOs) that empty their combination of untreated sewage and rainwater directly into the creek. In addition there are nineteen waste transfer stations within a quarter mile of the Creek that together handle 38% of all the waste moving through New York City.  In 2008, the Greenpoint Manufacturing and Design Center, Riverkeeper and the Newtown Creek Alliance received an award of $625,454 in New York State BOA funding for community-driven urban planning, environmental design initiatives, redevelopment analyses of Newtown Creek, and surrounding contaminated sites in Queens and Brooklyn.

What government incentive programs have successfully encouraged environmental remediation in your town or city?

Credits: Images and data linked to sources.

Christine Camilleri

Christine Devon Camilleri blogged for the GRID from October 2011 to May 2012. She is a Graduate student studying City and Regional Planning at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York. She also holds a B.S. in Human Development from Cornell University. She has lived in New York City for the majority of her life, and currently resides in Brooklyn, N.Y. Prior to joining Global Site Plans she worked as a grassroots political organizer. She is especially interested in New York City’s post-industrial waterfronts and the implications of participatory planning processes for community development initiatives.

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This entry was posted on Monday, December 5th, 2011 at 8:23 am and is filed under Community/Economic Development, Environment, Environmental Non-Profit, Infrastructure, Land Use, Urban Planning and Design. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.


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