|FROM A CITY OF GALESBURG PRESS RELEASE
Brownfields are former industrial or commercial sites where future use is affected by real or perceived environmental contamination. These sites can sit vacant for decades and provide a blighted look to the area surrounding it. It takes extra effort to redevelop a brownfields site but its return on investment can be great.
City of Galesburg's Director of Community Development, Roy Parkin and Economic Development Director, Cesar Suarez presented at a regional Economic Redevelopment of Brownfields workshop entitled "The Perception vs. The Reality" held at the Lake Storey Pavilion recently.
Parkin highlighted Galesburg's brownfields experience and showcased two projects as success stories. The former Paintcraft site on South Henderson Street which was a paint manufacturing and distribution business from 1920 through 1990 and the Knox Laundry facility located in the central business district. Both sites were left abandoned and deteriorating and because of the businesses housed there, provided additional challenge before beginning to market the sites to potential developers. The chemicals used in the manufacture of paint and later janitorial supplies at the former Paintcraft site were left behind in tanks and containers, some buried beneath the surface. The Knox Laundry site also had many unmarked containers of chemicals that first had to be identified before being discarded. Groundwater and soil contamination was found at both locations further increasing the complexity of cleanup.
The successful redevelopment of these projects has required a coordinated effort by several governmental agencies. The Paintcraft site required funding from the city of Galesburg for demolition and funding from the USEPA for the initial cleanup. The IEPA helped with technical assistance, a Municipal Brownfields Redevelopment Grant, funding to complete the assessment and develop an action plan, and funding for the final cleanup of the site. The Knox Laundry site to date has used local funds for demolition of the structures and help from the IEPA to evaluate the area and provide groundwater and soil sampling.
Today, the Paintcraft site is nearly ready for redevelopment. Interest has been shown in the property and completion of this project is expected this spring. The Knox Laundry site is visually improved, however the cleanup of the area is ongoing and the city is working to obtain additional state and possibly federal money to address health issues. Both of these projects illustrate the cooperative effort between local, state and federal agencies that brings brownfields back to life.
Suarez presented "The New Economy - Are Your Ready". He talked about what the New Economy is and shared how individuals can prepare themselves for such challenges as globalization, technology, and change. Suarez stated, "By understanding what the new economy is we can better deal with it and live in the world of opportunity instead of the world of ouches." Those in attendance were engaged in a discussion on tips for success in preparing for the New Economy. "Working ON your business rather than IN your business" and "Grow Value Over Profits" were two of the 12 tips that were shared.
The purpose of the workshop was to show the stakeholders in the region how to redevelop brownfields and make them a desirable property for future investment. "The workshop not only highlighted Galesburg's successes with brownfields redevelopment, but provided insight in how to move forward with new redevelopment efforts, locally and/or regionally," stated Frank Beck, Director, Stevenson Center for Community and Economic Development, Illinois State University.
Offering their expertise were staff from USEPA, Illinois EPA, the Technical Assistance to Brownfields Program at Kansas State University, HUD, USDA, Terracon (an engineering firm), and the Stevenson Center at Illinois State University.
The workshop, a joint venture with the Illinois Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity; Center for Hazardous Substance Research, Kansas State University; Stevenson Center for Community and Economic Development, Illinois State University; and the city of Galesburg, was open to anyone in the region and was provided free of charge.