The Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Northwest District, in partnership with the Northwest Florida and Apalachee Regional Planning Councils, educated more than five dozen people Wednesday about the environmental and economic benefits of brownfield redevelopment.
Local leaders with practical experience in cleaning up and redeveloping sites presented several in-depth elements of brownfield redevelopment, including the Brownfield Redevelopment Bonus Incentive Program, brownfield-area designation procedure and regional planning. A brownfield site is a property where expansion, redevelopment or reuse may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of environmental pollution.
“The Brownfields Program provides incentives to revitalize communities and foster economic development,” said DEP Northwest District Director Shawn Hamilton. “Through grants, our local communities can assess, cleanup and redevelop properties to meet local needs. We have already seen many successes of the program in Northwest Florida and I hope this workshop will help create even more success.”
Margaret Olsen, EPA Region IV Project Officer, kicked off the workshop with a discussion on federal brownfield grants. The Department’s Brownfields Program Manager, Kim Walker, followed with a “Brownfields 101” presentation. Koren Taylor, City of Tallahassee Environmental Programs Coordinator, shared the Gaines Street Corridor success story in the afternoon.
“Florida’s Brownfields Program facilitates the successful redevelopment of underutilized areas throughout the state,” said Jorge Caspary, Director of the Division of Waste Management. “This program not only makes it possible to mitigate contaminated sites, but also creates jobs and stimulates the economy in the process.”
The Florida Brownfields Program empowers communities, local governments and other stakeholders to work together to assess, clean up and reuse sites that have been previously impacted by pollutants. The program focuses on the cleanup of contaminated sites and economic redevelopment of those sites. To make the program’s incentives available to a community, a local government must designate a brownfield area by resolution. Local governments have designated 342 brownfield areas statewide totaling nearly 235,000 acres.
Utilizing economic and regulatory incentives, the Program encourages the use of private revenue to restore and redevelop sites, create new jobs and boost the local economy. The Department awards tax credits to encourage participants to conduct voluntary cleanup of these sites. In 2013, the Department approved more than $5.44 million in Voluntary Cleanup Tax Credits for site rehabilitation work completed in designated brownfield areas in 2012. Since inception of the program, 64 contaminated sites have been cleaned up, more than 50,000 confirmed and projected direct and indirect jobs have been created, and $2.4 billion in capital investment has been made within designated brownfield areas.