Atlanta BeltLine to be Featured Prominently in Upcoming National Brownfields Conference
ATLANTA – With approximately 1,100 acres of former industrial sites along the Atlanta BeltLine corridor, brownfield remediation is a significant component of this 22-mile urban redevelopment project. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recognizes the significance of the Atlanta BeltLine and, on May 8 awarded $600,000 for the project to advance clean-up efforts for the northeast corridor from Monroe Drive to its terminus near Buford Highway. This new investment is funded by EPA’s Brownfields Assessment, Revolving Loan Fund, and Cleanup (ARC) grants and will be awarded to Atlanta BeltLine, Inc. through Invest Atlanta, the City of Atlanta’s redevelopment agent.
“Brownfields sites are community assets and a key component of the Obama Administration’s efforts to provide tools to sustainably revitalize communities and foster economic development,” said Mathy Stanislaus, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response. “Through these grant resources local communities can continue to assess, cleanup and redevelop properties to meet local needs for jobs, housing and recreation while protecting people’s health and the local environment.”
“We are extremely pleased that the U.S. EPA continues to support the Atlanta BeltLine, one of the most impactful projects in the county,” said Brian McGowan, President and CEO of Invest Atlanta.
In addition, the Atlanta BeltLine will take center stage in this year’s bi-annual National Brownfields Conference, co-sponsored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the International City/County Management Association (ICMA). The conference is the largest training and networking event in the nation focusing on environmental revitalization and economic redevelopment and is designed to bring together stakeholders in government, business, nonprofits, and academia who promote positive change in their community. Now in its 15th year, the event attracts thousands of attendees and 200 exhibitors for two and a half days of educational sessions, training workshops, volunteer activities, mobile workshops, film screenings and much more.
“The Environmental Protection Agency, EPA Region 4, and Georgia Environmental Protection Division are integral partners in the Atlanta BeltLine and we are thrilled to showcase the project to a national audience,” said Lisa Gordon, COO and Interim Leader for Atlanta BeltLine, Inc. “We are looking forward to sharing and learning best practices with projects from around the country.”
The conference opens on May 15, 2013 at the Georgia World Congress Center with Atlanta BeltLine visionary Ryan Gravel as the featured speaker for the Opening Plenary Session. Over three days, the Educational Program will offer the Atlanta BeltLine bus tour of the full 22-mile loop; a tour of Ponce City Market for a first-hand look into how the Atlanta BeltLine Eastside Trail is revolutionizing development; and ABI staff are participating on three panels. More than 100 sessions round out the conference.
On the Atlanta BeltLine Eastside Trail, an EPA revolving loan fund provided $850,000 for remediation of the site before construction commenced. In all, approximately 1,700 tons of contaminated soil was removed over 2.25 miles. This process is now serving as a model for the rest of the 22-mile corridor. Historic Fourth Ward Park converted 17 acres of industrial wasteland into a grand recreational greenspace for a neighborhood that lacked this kind of amenity.
There are an estimated 450,000 abandoned and contaminated brownfield sites in the United States. More than 20,000 properties have been assessed, and more than 850 properties have been cleaned up through EPA’s Brownfields program. EPA’s Brownfields investments have also leveraged more than $19 billion in overall cleanup and redevelopment funding from public and private sources. On average $17.79 is leveraged for every EPA Brownfields grant dollar spent. These investments resulted in approximately 87,000 jobs nationwide. When Brownfields are addressed, nearby property values can increase 2-3 percent. A 2011 pilot study indicated Brownfields site redevelopment increases location efficiency, which means that residents live closer to where they work and play reducing their commute times and greenhouse gas emissions. EPA’s preliminary research has also shown that redeveloping Brownfield sites results in an efficient reuse of existing infrastructure and decreasing instances of stormwater runoff. These projects can have a positive impact on community revitalization by leveraging jobs, producing clean energy, and providing recreation opportunities for surrounding neighborhoods.
For more information on the National Brownfields Conference, please visit: www.brownfieldsconference.org
Read more about environmental progress and the Atlanta BeltLine.