Feature Article - September 2012
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Trash To Treasure

Transforming Brownfields Into Playing Fields and Parks

By Kelli Anderson

Counting the Cost

But even with all the benefits, there's no denying that depending on the needs of the site, preparation costs can be significant, depending on a wide variety of factors like topography, availability of materials and cover design. Securing funding for such projects comes in many forms, from loans, grants, tax credits and more. Thanks to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), there are many incentives to encourage those wanting to transform their derelict spaces into recreational ones.

One example of such financial aid comes in the form of The Brownfields Tax Incentive, part of the The Taxpayer Relief Act passed in 1997 to help offset costs associated with brownfield cleanup, site monitoring and maintenance to encourage business development, provided that the deduction of those costs is taken the same year as they are incurred.

(See www.epa.gov/brownfields/laws/index.htm for more information.)

Then, of course, there is the EPA's program for brownfields and land revitalization, a cleanup program that provides direct funding for brownfield assessment, loans and training that, in cooperation with other federal and state agencies, can bear a great deal of the financial burden on a project. Nonprofit organizations, too, like The Trust for Public Land, Groundwork USA and the Center for Creative Land Recycling also help communities fill in the funding gaps.

And then there are regulatory developments that are making the process a little easier. Many states, for example, are passing laws that are easing restrictions and decreasing the expenses (especially for park use) that once made smaller brownfield properties less likely contenders.

Of course, there is also the good old-fashioned fund-raiser. With brownfields gaining recognition for their power to economically revitalize entire towns and cities, as well as to improve the overall quality of life for local citizens, donations can often be raised from two unlikely bedfellows: conservationists and local businesses and developers who recognize the value of transforming brownfield trash to treasure.