The Road to Redevelopment: Conferences, Brownfields, and Community Visits in Region 10
CCLR Senior Planning and Brownfields Consultants Joelle Greenland, AICP and Tamara Cardona-Marek, PhD visited the Pacific Northwest for a series of events, to present at conferences, and to conduct a series of site visits. Their travels took them from the Seattle metro area to the Idaho Panhandle and the Oregon Coast. Along the way, they had numerous productive conversations and had the opportunity to see progress being made on brownfields throughout region 10.
Their first stop was the Northwest Remediation Conference in Tacoma WA. Joelle coordinated and led the Brownfields FUNdamentals Pre-Conference while Tamara moderated a discussion on affordable housing in which CCLR board member Margaret Van Vliet was a panelist. The conversation included a description of Washington State’s new Affordable Housing Cleanup Grant Program provided by the Washington Department of Ecology. This new program will provide funds to clean up brownfields that will be developed into affordable housing. Panelists discussed the challenges of affordable housing development including community involvement, environmental justice, leveraging of funds, and the timelines for development.
Over the course of an afternoon at the Tacoma Art Museum, the Brownfields FUNdamentals Pre-Conference provided a broad range of topics around brownfields redevelopment including pre-planning, visioning, site selection, community engagement, attracting investors, procurement, funding resources, the roles of regulatory agencies, and other key topics. With an engaged audience and spirited speakers, it was a fun-filled workshop full of information and resources to help attendees better understand how to begin their brownfields journey – we even had a high school student attend (super quick learner)! Many thanks to representatives from both federal and state agencies who made the journey to help present including, Terri Griffith, Region 10 USEPA, Kari Sample, Washington Department of Commerce and Ali Furmall, Washington State Department of Ecology.
Joelle and Tamara also had the great pleasure to visit with representatives from Olympia (recipient of a FY22 EPA Brownfields Grant and a winner at the National Brownfields Conference Redevelopment Rodeo this past August), Tacoma, Tumwater, and Kelso (recipient of a 2013 EPA Cleanup Grant). This whirlwind brownfields tour gave Joelle and Tamara the opportunity to put “boots on the ground” and walk through some challenging, but highly impactful, sites that have immense potential for their respective communities.
Two weeks later, Joelle returned to the Pacific Northwest, where she started her self-described ‘epic road trip’ in Spokane, WA, where she toured a number of amazing projects with Terri Stripes, Economic Development Specialist for the City. Projects included, but were not limited to: the award-winning Riverfront project along the Spokane River, a new urbanist, mixed-use community in a former rail yard called Kendall Yards, and Hillyard in northeast Spokane where it and two other neighborhoods are transforming with the help of a new FY22 EPA Assessment Grant.
From Spokane she traversed east and north to the City of Ponderay, located along the majestic shores of Lake Pend Oreille, Idaho’s biggest lake, with 111 miles of shoreline. The City is the recipient of a 2019 EPA Multipurpose Grant to address the cleanup and reuse of the Historic Panhandle Smelting & Refining Company Smelter Area properties, which Joelle toured with the City’s Community Development Director, Erik Brubaker, and Idaho Department of Environmental Quality’s Steve Gill. Under the management of Brubaker and the oversight of Gill, this dynamic duo has done a tremendous amount of work to get the properties where they are today. Site cleanup will take place in 2023, leading to the eventual connection of the City of Sandpoint to the existing Pend Oreille Bay Trail 1.5 miles south of the City- finally providing lake access for Sandpoint residents and visitors.
Continuing 80 miles south to Plummer, Idaho, Joelle had the pleasure of meeting up with members of the Coeur d’Alene Tribe’s Environmental Programs Office (EPO), which manages programs to “enhance and protect the environment and health of the population on and near the Coeur d’Alene Tribe Reservation”. Located along the western border of the state, the reservation encompasses almost 350,000 acres. Utilizing EPA Section 128(a) Tribal Response Program (TRP) funds, EPO has been able to address, manage and restore a number of brownfields sites.
With daylight quickly disappearing, Joelle traversed back to Spokane where the following morning she was able to meet up with a representative from Ecology to discuss future brownfields workshops, as well as tour the Phoenix-Award-winning Riverfront Park.
Afterwards, it was back on the road to venture 200 miles south to Pendleton, Oregon to present at the 2022 Oregon APA State Conference. Traveling through southeastern Washington and then northeastern Oregon proved to be filled with inspiring landscapes and breathtaking views of the Columbia River, the largest river in the Pacific Northwest. Joelle was thrilled to be presenting in-person along with Karen Homolac from Business Oregon, “You Want Me To Recycle What” at the 2022 state planning conference. Joining them virtually was Seth Otto, AICP, from Maul Foster Alongi. The presentation covered assorted topics and case studies including environmental justice, equitable redevelopment planning, funding strategies as well as thinking “big” when contemplating reuses.
As we round out 2022, it has been a joy getting back to visiting sites and presenting at conferences in person, as well as meeting our brownfields colleagues and community members. In 2023, CCLR looks forward to presenting more at conferences, trainings, and workshops, and meeting more communities to help them better understand, plan, and develop implementation strategies that turn their brownfields into opportunities for social, health, and economic prosperity!