A brownfield is a site or property that has been abandoned or unutilized because they may be contaminated or thought to be contaminated; which makes the possibility of expansion, investment, and redevelopment impossible due to the presence of environmental contamination. Brownfields can create havoc in cities and states because of the direct impact that they impose on the economy.
The manifestation of brownfields evacuates neighborhoods, decreases the tax base, lowers property values on adjacent properties, increases crime and blight, eliminates jobs and weakens the K-12 education system by encouraging residents to flee into healthier neighborhoods.
EA believes that the presence of brownfields drains the City of Detroit’s valuable resources and impedes the progress of Detroit’s revitalization. When properties or sites are left vacant or unutilized, the properties get reverted back to the city because of unpaid taxes, rather than creating tax revenues for city’s public services. Once brownfields are reused, revitalized and restored, the tax base naturally rejuvenates itself while simultaneously generating jobs and decreasing the amount of crime and blight related issues.
In order to assist the city’s mission towards revitalization, BSEED-Environmental Affairs has worked on countless redevelopment projects, such as the clean-up activity located in Eastern Riverside; the district encompassed nearly 350 acres and stretches three and one-half miles, alongside the Detroit River and east of downtown. The goal for Riverside was to restore its historical glory while “showcasing the success of true renaissance”, essential uniting a city and community as one.
They greatly did so through collaboration, partnerships, compliance assistance and mechanisms of enforcement. BSEED actively collaborated with The Michigan Department of Environmental Authority (MDEQ), a state agency run that specializes in brownfield clean-up through outreach, technical assistance, and data collection while simultaneously protecting the environment.
In addition to collaborating with MDEQ on the Eastern Riverside project, BSEED and MDEQ work side by side with: USEPA-Grosse Ile, Michigan, Detroit Economic Growth Corporation (DEGC), city of Detroit Planning and Development Department (P&DD), Recreation Department, Law Department (Law), Water and Sewerage Department (DWSD), and Department of Public Works (DPW), while employing the Redevelopment of Urban Sites concept (REUS), they are known as the “REUS Team”. Throughout the project their efforts eliminated waste by maximizing resources and relying on one another for technical expertise, thus advancing the city’s agenda.
As a result of collaboration between EA, MDEQ, and US EPA regarding health and safety issues, environmental assessments, and clean-up projects within the city of Detroit, a partnership was developed. A committee named Redevelopment of Urban Sites (REUS) was formed to hold regularly scheduled meetings to address current and future Brownfield sites, issues and initiatives related to environmental and economic redevelopment, and the mitigation of any foreseeable threat due to adverse impacts from contaminated sites.
Brownfield redevelopment: The Eastern Riverside project