Linking the brownfield prioritization process to community initiatives already underway, and those to come, is key to successful deployment of EPA Brownfield Assessment Grants. Additionally, innovation in US EPA Brownfield Assessment Grant awards in the mid 2000s demonstrated the value of area-wide brownfield assessment approaches. Instead of just targeting known brownfield sites and addressing them in an ad hoc process, research identified that area-wide strategies deployed on a collection of geographically co-located brownfield sites produced greater results. More sites could be assessed per US EPA grant dollar invested. This efficiency gain is carried over to brownfield redevelopment benefits – the investment of redevelopment capital into a collection of sites has a greater collective impact on the community.
As such, “Brownfield Planning” is a means to integrate a community’s ongoing planning efforts with the community engagement, prioritization process, and to yield targeted approaches to brownfield assessment. This helps capitalize on the collective benefits of area-wide brownfield assessment, and combines it with economic development goals, livability initiatives, and existing assets in the targeted areas of the community.
Technical Project Team members Lazarus and Symbiont, originators in data driven approaches to brownfield inventory efforts, are driving the inventory process of the South Bend Brownfield Coalition. Lazarus and Green 3, in concert with community planning and economic development staff, reviewed existing planning and livability initiatives, socioeconomic data, and community conditions to initiate the Brownfield Planning Process for the South Bend Brownfield Coalition. With the data gathered, and the Data Portal assisting the prioritization process, the Brownfield Planning team identified 2 Focus Areas and 4 distinct Opportunity Areas in which to target brownfield assessment efforts. The Brownfield Planning process is ongoing, and it continues on a parallel trajectory with ongoing brownfield assessment of “no-brainer sites” – brownfield sites that have known issues as identified by Coalition Partners and the public.