TRENTON’S BROWNFIELDS PROGRAM
Trenton Brownfields Program began in the mid-1990s when attempts to redevelop former industrial sites ran into obstacles created by new environmental regulations. The cost to comply with environmental regulations that required soil and groundwater investigations, underground storage tank removals, soil remediation and other work often exceeded the value of real estate that the City was trying to dispose for redevelopment. Since that time, the Brownfields Program has been a key component in the redevelopment of city-owned sites. Over $40 million in mostly competitive grant funding has been received from Federal, State and other sources for the assessment, investigation and remediation of brownfields sites, and the creation of new open space such as the ongoing Assunpink Greenway.
The history, accomplishments, program metrics, and objectives of the program, as well as selected case studies of brownfields projects, are summarized in the 2018 Brownfields Action Plan. The Brownfields Action Plan (BAP) is issued every four years to coincide with the City’s election cycle to inform and update interested stakeholders.
How we get work done
The Brownfields program applies for funding from federal and state sources to assess, investigate and remediate city-owned sites that are prioritized for redevelopment. Hazardous Discharge Site Remediation Fund (HDSRF) grants from NJEDA/NJDEP and USEPA Assessment Grants are used to conduct assessments and investigations, while USEPA Cleanup grants can provide up to $200,000 or more for remediation. City capital budget funds and other grant programs are used when available and/or necessary. The program also supports open space creation and uses Green Acres funding for acquisition and development of parks in partnership with the Division of Recreation. The BAP lists all of the grant funding obtained and utilized over the life of the program.
L) Excavating contaminated soil behind a former dry cleaner; R) underground tank removal and oily groundwater recovery at former Magic Marker site.
In order to expedite the work to the extent possible, maximize efficiency and minimize expenses, the Brownfields Program self-performs historic research, field assessments, technical and public bid specification preparation, and requests for proposals for contract work with state-licensed professionals. Grant funding and compliance is accomplished with the assistance of professional experts contracted annually.
Programmatic success also requires developing partnerships with, and accessing resources of, many stakeholders including: NJDEP’s Community Collaborative Initiative; NJDEP’s Office of Brownfields Reuse; USEPA Region 2 and Headquarters; local stakeholders and non-profits; and other groups working on redevelopment and environmental issues in Trenton. The Better Environmental Solutions for Trenton (BEST) Committee is the Brownfields Program’s Advisory Committee and is made up of various public and private stakeholders. The BEST committee has been meeting throughout the programs ~25 year history.
Brownfields Inventory and Redevelopment
The program maintains a brownfield inventory of over 100 sites, 60 of which have been remediated and/or addressed to the extent necessary to be redeveloped. Trenton’s brownfield sites have been redeveloped for a variety of uses, including: public use (14 sites); open space (12); commercial (8); industrial (10) and residential use (14). A total of 537 units of mostly affordable housing have been constructed on brownfields sites that have been remediated for residential use.
L) East Trenton Homes; R) the new Greg Grant Park received a Phoenix award in 2015.
Phoenix awards are presented to outstanding brownfields redevelopment projects at the annual National Brownfields Conference sponsored by the USEPA. Seven brownfields redevelopment projects in the City of Trenton have received Pghoenix Awards, more than any other City in the United States. Award winners are: Wateerfront Park (1999); the Crane site (2001); Lafayette Yard (2002); the Battle Monument area-wide brownfields redevelopment (2004); three Hutchinson Industries facilities (2009); Magic Marker site (2011); and the Greg Grant Park/East Trenton Homes (2015).
Magic Marker site (center; 1999) became the Phoenix Award winning Catherine S. Graham Homes (right; 2011).
The City, the Brownfields Program and/or the City’s Brownfields Coordinator have received other brownfields awards from organizations including: NJDEP, NJ Future (Smart Growth Awards); USEPA (Environmental Champion Award); the National Association of Local Government Environmental Professionals (NALGEP); Interstate Technology Regulatory Council (two ITRC Stakeholder Awards); and the U.S.-German Bilateral Working Group.
The City’s Brownfields Program is a leader among municipal brownfields programs in the State of New Jersey and in USEPA Region 2, has provided mentorship in partnership with NJDEP and USEPA, and has contributed to policy changes and development at the federal and level.
For more information on the program, contact:
J.R. Capasso, CPG
Division of Economic Development