What is a brownfield?
Brownfields are properties with known or suspected environmental contamination, the presence of which has hindered investment and redevelopment on the site. According to the EPA, a brownfield is a property where the expansion, redevelopment, or reuse may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant. Some brownfield sites require remediation with costs that far exceed the value of the property, which is one reason why many sites sit vacant and undeveloped for years.
Brownfields in the Region
The remnants of large-scale industrial production that once drove the region’s economy are the most visible examples of brownfield sites in the Naugatuck Valley, however, brownfields are not exclusive to these historical manufacturing buildings and sites. Brownfields can be designated anywhere known or suspected environmental contamination has hindered investment on a parcel. Sites can range in scale from vacant auto-repair facilities and dry cleaners to underutilized historic commercial properties and former agricultural lands.
Why Invest in Brownfields?
According to the EPA, $17.45 was leveraged for each brownfields dollar and 9 jobs leveraged per $100,000 of EPA brownfields funds expended on assessment, cleanup, and revolving loan fund cooperative agreements. Over the past decade, NVCOG has managed more than $3 million in federal brownfields funding awarded and administered by EPA. Through redevelopment projects, this funding has leveraged more than $76 million in additional federal, state, municipal and private investment.
Cleaning up and reusing brownfields properties provide many community benefits. Redeveloping these sites can increase the local tax base, create jobs and spur economic development in surrounding areas. It can focus development on areas where utilities and access are readily available, and help protect currently undeveloped or agricultural land, or “greenfields” from sprawl.
Redeveloping brownfields can help protect and improve the health and quality of life of residents by removing blight and environmentally contaminated soils. While Naugatuck Valley’s industrial legacy has left many of our cities and towns with hard to solve environmental problems these sites also present an incredible opportunity for our communities to reclaim and reimagine these spaces and to provide significant benefit to residents.
NVCOG’s Brownfield Redevelopment Program works with the support of the Regional Brownfields Partnership, a committee of 27 towns, to help transform these sites from community liabilities into community assets by providing grant and loan funding and technical assistance to navigate the environmental process from environmental site assessments to the cleanup process.
Our program is committed to helping communities in Connecticut reclaim and revitalize brownfield properties, mitigate potential health risks, and restore economic vitality, especially for communities who are historically impacted by economic disinvestment, health disparities, and environmental contamination.