City of Madison Hosts Brownfields Assessment Kickoff Meeting

Madison, WI  December 4, 2013.  Last night City staff briefed a small group of citizens on its new program to inventory, characterize, investigate and conduct remediation planning on brownfield sites in the City of Madison.

During the meeting City staff gave an overview of the brownfields program including the benefits of redeveloping brownfields, details on the EPA grant and how and on what kinds of sites it can be applied, and described the three brownfields corridors.  City staff was assisted in this presentation, and the question & answer session that followed,  by employees of the firm SCS Engineers, that was hired to perform site investigations.

Bryan Grady of the City of Madison Planning Division making a presentation about the City's Brownfields Assessment Program

Brian Grady of the City of Madison Planning Division speaking at the public meeting about the City’s Brownfields Assessment Program.

Brian Grady of the City Planning Division also provided an overview of how the assessment program will be implemented, including details on types and levels of site investigations, outreach to potential partners, and how the public can provide input into the assessment program

Why the Interest in Brownfields?

Click here to see this earlier post on the brownfields assessment program.  Madison’s brownfields assessment is funded by a three-year, $400,000 grant from the US Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) that runs through September 30, 2015.

Brownfields are defined by the Wisconsin DNR as “abandoned, idle, or underused commercial or industrial properties, where the reuse or re-development may be hindered by real or perceived contamination.”  Land use types and businesses that can–but not always–produce contamination include manufacturing plants, gas stations, dry cleaners, automobile dealerships and/or repair shops, fuel storage tanks, and sites where pesticides or herbicides have been stored.

Brownfields in Madison

City staff have identified three corridors that contain many of the City’s brownfields:  Packer’s Avenue/Pennsylvania Avenue (North Corridor); East Washington Avenue (Isthmus Corridor); and Park Street (South Corridor).  See here the City’s Brownfields Assessment Program Fact Sheet  for more information and a map of the brownfield corridor.  Individual maps of the three corridors may be found here on the City’s Brownfields home page.  (NOTE:  A portion of the South Corridor runs through the eastern end of the Lake Wingra Watershed and is close to Arboretum wetlands, and Lakes Wingra and Monona.)

Brownfields Assessment Program

According to City staff, the emphasis of the assessment program is on redevelopment and cite these potential benefits: 1) reducing risks to public health and the environment; 2) use of existing infrastructure; 3) increasing property values and tax revenue; 4) increasing job and housing opportunities.

Program Implementation

City staff explained that the immediate next steps in the implementation are to rank sites, expand outreach, and conduct site investigations.

Site prioritization

Site prioritization will be based upon:

  • degree of contamination
  • potential for near-term development
  • community priority

Public Outreach

To aid in setting priorities, City staff will  expand outreach to potential partners and citizens to get a sense of community priorities in terms of sites of special environmental concern and sites that should be re developed first.

Current partners include the Northside Planning Council, East Isthmus Neighborhoods Planning Council, and the South Metropolitan Planning Council, because the three brownfield corridors align with the service areas of the planning councils.

Site Investigations

Site investigations will follow a four-step process to first identify conditions that would indicate potential contamination; then decide if candidate sites are actually contaminated; define the magnitude and extent of contamination; finally, select a remediation strategy that combines effectiveness, cost, and redevelopment potential.

To Learn More . . .

City of Madison Engineering Division maintains a brownfields home web page with updates on the program, meeting notices and agendas, and links to more information. Click here to reach the City’s brownfields home page.

About Steve Glass

The blogger is a restoration ecologist, Certified Ecological Restoration Practitioner (#0093 SER) and writer living in the Midwestern United States.
This entry was posted in Brownfields Assessment Program, Brownfields in Madison, Lake Wingra Watershed, Park Street. Bookmark the permalink.

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