Brownfield sites are real property, the expansion, redevelopment, or reuse of which may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant or contaminant. Brownfield sites may include any type of real property, including residential, industrial, and commercial properties. Cleaning up and reinvesting in these underutilized properties reduces development pressure on undeveloped green spaces and protects the environment.
In September, 2005, the Mayor of Chattanooga, Ron Littlefield, appointed a Brownfields Task Force charged with developing recommendations for the creation of a formal Brownfields Management Program in Chattanooga. The Enterprise Center was asked to facilitate and staff the initiative.
The following recommendations were developed by the Task Force:
The Brownfields Task Force recommended that Chattanooga adopt, embrace, and fully maximize federal and state brownfields policy, utilizing federal grant programs through a comprehensive, coordinated brownfields program.
With the following mission –Implement a coordinated program for the timely remediation and redevelopment (reclamation or reuse) of brownfields and abandoned properties in the Chattanooga/Hamilton County area.And the following vision –The Chattanooga area’s leadership in public/private partnerships is substantially enhanced by a coordinated and collaborative brownfields program that promotes partnerships, protects the environment, strengthens the market place, and sustains reuse.
At the recommendation of The Enterprise Center’s Task Force, the City of Chattanooga pursued an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) grant for its highest priority for brownfields assessment - the Alton Park community, located south of downtown Chattanooga. In that first year (FY 2006), the City of Chattanooga received $200,000 from the EPA to conduct a community-wide Brownfields Assessment for the Alton Park community. Subsequently, Chattanooga won new brownfield grants in FY 2007, FY 2008 and FY 2009. Total grants from EPA for cleanup and assessment exceed $1.4 million during that period. In addition, the City of Chattanooga has created a $2 million Brownfields Revolving Loan Fund for cleanup and redevelopment with the assistance of EPA and HUD funding.
These proposals were a part of the mayor's and Brownfields Task Force's efforts to implement an ongoing, comprehensive, coordinated brownfields remediation and redevelopment program that maximizes the use of federal brownfields funds and targets strategic brownfield sites for development and revitalization.
In his remarks relative to the brownfields proposals, Mayor Littlefield said,
“It is vitally important to the City of Chattanooga and its citizenry that we identify, remediate, and use the valuable land within the city’s limits. We have an opportunity to capture federal funding to clean up the land, then give it back to our citizens so it can become productive again.”
Today, Chattanooga’s brownfields initiatives are assigned to the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Regional Planning Agency and/or BrightBridge, Inc. The Enterprise Center continues to be actively involved in brownfield issues and serves as an advisor and consultant on local brownfield initiatives.