Written by Jill Nossa Friday, 12 October 2012 00:00
The proposed bill, The Waterfront Brownfields Revitalization Act, would award grants to local government and nonprofits that redevelop abandoned, idled or underused industrial properties on waterfronts. Senator Gillibrand said the bill would spur economic development, and that there is “no excuse” to not move forward with this opportunity.
“Glen Cove sits on this beautiful waterfront – bursting with potential for economic growth,” said Senator Gillibrand, a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. “New York’s industrial economy powered us through the 20th century, and put sites like this on the map. Now we have an opportunity to revitalize our communities, attract new businesses and create new jobs, and make our waterfront a place for Long Islanders to live, work and raise a family. This commonsense bill can harness the potential for our waterfronts to drive our local economy, and help Long Island thrive.”
The Glen Cove Waterfront Redevelopment Area (WRA) has benefited from federal, state, and local investment and is in the final stretch of remediating all of the contaminated properties on the north side of Glen Cove Creek. Brownfields frequently include inactive facilities where expansion is often complicated by environmental contamination. The grants authorized in the legislation would spur economic development and protect the environment by cleaning up and developing dormant industrial facilities and converting them into new hubs of economic activity.
Mayor Ralph Suozzi stated, “This funding source will help communities like Glen Cove deal with revitalizing the brownfields left over from our industrial past. Without government legislation like this, local communities cannot sustain the financially and time consumptive burden of reclaiming its lost waterfront brownfields. I support and applaud Senator Gillibrand’s efforts on behalf of every American community that wants the same things as Glen Cove. A clean environment, economic activity, jobs, a higher quality of life, and safe healthy recreational access to our most precious natural resource, our waterfronts.”
In 1993, Glen Cove established a Waterfront Revitalization Plan to address the cleanup and redevelopment of 214 acres of the waterfront property straddling Glen Cove Creek. In 1997, the city received a Brownfield Pilot Grant from the USEPA, and in 1998 was designated a Brownfields Showcase Community by the Brownfields National Partnership.
Over the past decade, the city and its federal, state and local partners have remediated over 50 acres along the North side of Glen Cove Creek. Over $100 million in public and private funding has been invested in environmental assessment, remediation and infrastructure in the WRA. The last remaining brownfield within the redevelopment site on the north side of the Creek is 10 Garvies Point Road, for which remediation will begin later this month.
When complete, the WRA redevelopment plan will include an active mixed-use development combining residential, commercial, cultural, recreational and entertainment uses. It strengthens the public waterfront experience by providing a pedestrian oriented, contiguous series of open spaces along the water’s edge, comprising approximately 19 acres of publicly accessible parks and walkways. It will offer increased transit options, including Glen Cove’s first dedicated commuter ferry to Manhattan, trolleys servicing the trains and bus stops, and pedestrian and vehicle access connecting the downtown directly with the waterfront.
If left untouched, brownfields can be harmful to surrounding environments and habitats diminishing access for both economic and recreational access and opportunities and the associated quality of life in these communities. As with the case in Glen Cove: At least 38 acres of tidal habitat in Hempstead Harbor were impacted by contaminants, reducing the quality of habitat available for fish, wildlife, and shellfish; and, elevated concentrations of polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), pesticides, and metals were identified in the sediment of Glen Cove Creek.
Nassau County Legislator Delia DeRiggi-Whitton told the Record Pilot: “Since the 1990s, I have been witnessing and participating in the cleanup effort on Glen Cove’s waterfront. I remember when my father was mayor, containers holding toxic materials were found buried near the sight of the ferry. The city had to close the area while these drums were hauled away. It was said that it could take up to 20 years to clean the area, and now that it is about 20 years later, I am very happy to see that we have come so far.
“So, it is great to see our U.S. senator giving attention to these kinds of efforts. Kirsten Gillibrand’s new legislation will help communities like ours transition industrial sites into cleaner, usable areas, with projects that help create jobs and new economic opportunities.”
Under Senator Gillibrand’s Waterfront Brownfields Revitalization Act, public entities and nonprofits would apply for competitive grants up to $500,000 for the remediation, reuse or site characterization and assessment of brownfields properties. Additionally, the legislation would establish a task force to examine existing and potential funding, methods to coordinate waterfront brownfields revitalization, and identify barriers to solutions and technical assistance. The task force would be commissioned by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and would include the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the U.S. Department of Transportation, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Economic Development Administration, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, state and local government, and community-based organizations. The legislation would authorize $220 million each fiscal year from 2013-2017.
“Glen Cove is on the cusp of success,” said Suozzi. “But, there’s still work to be done. If not us, then who? If not now, then when?”