VLG EP39: Brownfields

The Environmental Protection Agency defines brownfields as "a property, the expansion, redevelopment, or reuse of which may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant."

There are dozens or hundreds of examples among the hundreds of thousands of brownfield sites in the United States. Some of the most obvious include:

  1. Abandoned gas stations.
  2. Dilapidated warehouses.
  3. Rusted septic tanks.
  4. Closed dry cleaners.
  5. That inactive “farm.”
  6. Inherited or purchased land that turns out to be a bigger liability than asset.
  7. Anywhere you'd find lead, asbestos, petroleum, or other nasty chemicals.

Brownfields can hurt quality of life, public health, and property value for residents. Local government and community leaders can flip these liabilities into opportunities to create:

  1. Affordable housing.
  2. Room for new local businesses.
  3. Parks or green space.
  4. Office space.
  5. Increased tax revenue.
  6. Increased property value.
  7. Cleaner environment.

How and Who Pays?

🎧 Listen to ICMA's Voices in Local Government podcast, EP39 Brownfields: From Rusted Fences to New Revenue to learn more about our free assistance program and federal grants to cover expenses.

Then register for National Brownfields Training Conference 2023, August 8-11 in Detroit, Michigan.

Or send the links to someone on your staff who can get started and get rid of those chain link fences protecting… nothing good.


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Technical Assistance to Brownfields Communities: Free technical assistance and workshops (in-person or digital) via ICMA in region four, or find your representative organization on the resources page.

Brownfields Conference, August 8-11 in Detroit, Michigan.

Brownfields University, a foundational preconference training program, free with registration for Brownfields 2023 conference. 

ICMA Brownfields topic page, for the basics all the way through advanced studies and resources.

New, Reduced Membership Dues

A new, reduced dues rate is available for CAOs/ACAOs, along with additional discounts for those in smaller communities, has been implemented. Learn more and be sure to join or renew today!