A charming and rustic community nestled in the Sierra Nevada mountains found itself under tremendous growth pressure, with development crawling up its picturesque hillsides. At the same time, a 40-acre rail yard lay vacant adjacent to the town's historic downtown, offering a critical infill opportunity. Two significant challenges hindered the rail yard's redevelopment: first, the long-standing and prevailing myth that the site was dangerously contaminated, and second, the town's historically strained relationship with the railroad company.
Even though an old timber mill had operated on the site at one point in its history, by gathering all the existing environmental documents, CCLR was able to dispel the prevailing myth that the site was seriously contaminated. CCLR then facilitated the first open dialogue between the town and the railroad company.
The site was not as contaminated as the public perceived. An open dialogue, initiated by CCLR, helped the community and the railroad company come to an agreement on developing this key infill location. A Master Plan for the Railyard area is in place, and the site will be redeveloped into a mixed-use development that includes housing, retail, commerical and recreational space.
Prevailing myths about the perception of contamination can be dispelled with information and appropriate communication. A third-party mediator can be helpful in bringing a recalcitrant landowner to the table.