A new tool brings hope to some of Minnesota’s more than 10,000 former industrial or commercial sites that are underused or abandoned due to concerns about hazardous contaminants. Revitalizing these sites – called brownfields – can bring people and jobs back to areas, improve neighborhoods, help the environment and promote public health.
The City of Duluth is using the new Brownfield Health Indicator Tool to address the common challenges of transforming brownfields into productive community assets, including the complicated process of identifying and prioritizing redevelopment strategies that will best meet the long-term needs of the environment and community. The tool, developed in partnership with Minnesota Brownfields and the Minnesota Department of Health, aims to streamline project decision-making by focusing on health.
“From social cohesion to healthy housing to community service access, brownfield redevelopment provides an amazing opportunity to shape a wide range of factors that influence public health,” said James Kelly, environmental surveillance and assessment manager for the Minnesota Department of Health. “This tool was developed to help city planners, developers, institutions and communities across Minnesota understand these opportunities and uncover project strategies that are grounded in health equity. When you shape your process through the lens of health equity, benefits for the environment and economy will follow.”
Designed as a self-guided tool by those who influence and work on brownfield projects, the Brownfield Health Indicator Tool’s framework supports existing project decision-making processes. The tool can also help identify potential community health risks, assess the project’s proposed benefits, engage with project stakeholders and prioritize redevelopment strategies that provide multiple benefits.
Idle brownfield sites are often found in economically distressed areas, typically concentrated in urban locations, but they are also found in prime downtown and waterfront locations in nearly every community throughout the state. As abandoned sites, they disrupt ecological, economic and community connections. Revitalizing brownfield sites can offer an opportunity to bring people and jobs back to areas, resolve neighborhood blight, increase community connectivity, restore ecological balance and promote public health.
“Communities across Minnesota are looking for brownfield redevelopment best practices that balance the demands of economic growth with environmental and public health protection,” said Martha Faust, executive director of Minnesota Brownfields. “There are so many things to consider when redeveloping a brownfield site, which makes it difficult to organize and prioritize needs. Our partnerships at state and city levels have demonstrated that we can remove one of the process barriers in brownfield redevelopment by using this tool’s framework and by working on this together, we can better support the revitalization of Minnesota communities.”
The current City of Duluth Irving-Fairmount Brownfields Revitalization Plan draft draws guidance from the Brownfield Health Indicator Tool, specifically in the areas of social cohesion (integrating a neighborhood gathering space), connectivity (new pedestrian trail and improved truck circulation) and economic stability (land redevelopment for both economic development and housing). Health equity and well-being are also core principles, tied to the Imagine Duluth 2035 comprehensive planning process.
“Brownfield redevelopment is all about a do-over,” said Heidi Timm-Bijold, business resources manager for the City of Duluth. “This tool has been a critical asset in making the most of our second chance in the Irving and Fairmount neighborhoods by helping us all better understand, prioritize and elevate what health means for this community and what opportunities this redevelopment offers. By engaging the community and our research team with this tool, we were able to articulate core values for the project that we might have missed otherwise.”
Integrating the tool into their brownfield redevelopment process represents one step in the journey of leveraging brownfields as catalysts for healthy change in the City of Duluth. The city plans to take learnings from this pilot project and use them as a springboard for shaping future redevelopment efforts as it maps out land use for the Imagine Duluth 2035 comprehensive plan.
For more information about the City of Duluth’s work, visit Irving-Fairmount Brownfields Revitalization Plan. The City of Duluth project is funded by a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Area-Wide Planning Grant, which provides funding to communities to research, plan and develop implementation strategies for cleaning up and revitalizing a specific area affected by one or more brownfield sites.
Natalie Brown Anne Hendrickson Heidi Timm-Bijold
Minnesota Brownfields Minnesota Department of Health City of Duluth
612-545-6389 651-201-4171 218-730-5324
firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com HTimmBijold@duluthmn.gov
The Metropolitan Council is soliciting proposals for environmental services to assist the Council with construction monitoring for contaminated materials and Response Action Plan implementation during construction of the Green Line Extension (“Southwest LRT”) Project.
Bids must be received by June 20, 5:00pm CST.
Click Here to view and download the RFP documents (including Plan Holder Report and Addendums). The RFP may be viewed on-line at no charge and downloaded for a nonrefundable cost of $10.00. Please input this QuestCDN eBidDoc™ Number 5140569 on the website’s Project Search page. Contact QuestCDN at 952-233-1632 or firstname.lastname@example.org for assistance in downloading and working with the digital documents.
Proposers are strongly encouraged to verify subcontractor’s State and Federal debarment and suspension status here. Per 2 CFR 200.319, contractors that develop or draft specifications, requirements, statements of work, and invitations for bids or requests for proposals must be excluded from competing for such procurements.
Questions concerning the content of the RFP documents may be directed to: Auburn Dees RFP Administrator Metropolitan Council 390 North Robert Street St. Paul, MN 55101 Phone: (651) 602-1349 email@example.com.
States around the U.S. have different regulations governing how regulated (contaminated) fill soils at redevelopment sites are managed, and whether they can be reused. The most common practice is what’s called “dig and dump”, or excavating soils with contaminant concentrations in exceedance of permitted levels, then hauling those soils to an area landfill to use as daily cover. Problem solved, right? Turns out, not exactly.
Hauling regulated soil to landfills is expensive. For many Minnesota metro-area redevelopment projects receiving brownfield grant funds, up to 100% of grant funding is sometimes used just for dig and dump. Given that most brownfield grant programs are oversubscribed, this is concerning. Furthermore, trucks transporting the fill soils to often remote landfills result in additional vehicle miles traveled. Elsewhere around the world, countries like Great Britain are at or nearing landfill capacity and have had to find other solutions to this problem. Meanwhile, in Minnesota there are redevelopment projects occurring in close proximity where Site A has excess soils, and Site B requires additional soils. Depending on the characteristics of the fill soils, there is the hypothetical possibility to transfer regulated soils between the sites. There could be tremendous cost savings and reduced truck traffic realized in such a scenario.
Minnesota Brownfields has studied current redevelopment practices to measure the economic and environmental cost of dig and dump. Since 2015, Minnesota Brownfields has been meeting regularly with the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) to consider policy revisions to allow regulated fill reuse at redevelopment sites, if certain conditions are met to ensure protection of human health and the environment. Those who work in redevelopment know that MPCA already has a policy in place to enable regulated fill reuse. Without liability protection, the policy — though well-intended — just hasn’t been used. So the current discussion is focused on providing liability protection for both the exporting and importing site. While we aren’t there yet, a change to MN Statutes is being considered to address this issue.
Want to learn more? Read more about our soil reuse study here. Or join us on Tuesday, July 18 at the State of Brownfields Update in Minneapolis, where Amy Hadiaris of MPCA and attorney Sara Peterson will present potential policy and changes. To learn more about how soil reuse works elsewhere in the world, attend the EPA Brownfields Conference December 5-7 in Pittsburgh, where Sara Peterson will moderate a panel discussion with representatives from the United Kingdom and Province of Ontario.
Session Two presentations:
BMPs for Vapor Intrusion- Part 2– MPCA
Closed Petroleum Sites: Bringing Some Perspective– Bay West
Vapor Intrusion Mitigation– Braun Intertec
Vapor Mitigation Case Studies– Wenck
Regulations and BMPs – MPCA
Air Quality & Health Screening Methods– Department of Health
Vapor Intrusion and Building Design– Braun Intertec
VI Sampling/Testing Methodology– Pace Analytical, Braun Intertec
Case Study, Commercial Site With Active Mitigation– Barr Engineering
- Natalie Brown from Minnesota Brownfields
- Shanna Schmitt from the MPCA
- Janice Gundlach from the City of New Brighton
- Kristen Lukes from DEED
Our speakers described what brownfields are, the difficulties and opportunities that they provide, and how cities can use their brownfields in useful, sustainable projects.
More information on the program can be found here.
On Tuesday, the first community meeting for the West Side Flats Greenway took place at the Neighborhood House/Wellstone Center in St. Paul. Attendees were greeted by project members and asked to participate in a number of activities relevant to the planning process. People were asked to write about what they saw for the space in ten years and to vote on their ideal space designs. With this process there were pictures of various gathering space concepts, water features, park types, bench styles, and activities displayed where each person voted for their two favorites in each category.
The theme of community input was apparent throughout the meeting and was especially salient because the green space is all about designing for function and amenity.
The West Side Flats Study Area is approximately 120 acres and is located directly across the Mississippi River from downtown Saint Paul; situated between the river, Plato Boulevard, Wabasha Street, and Lafayette Road. The proposed Greenway is located along a working rail line that divides the Study Area.
The Study Area was funded through multiple grants including U.S. EPA Brownfields Areawide Planning. Through this grant, Minnesota Brownfields was brought on as a partner to help inform the community about the role of brownfields in redevelopment planning for the West Side Flats. The Areawide grant enables planners to assess not just the proposed study area but the area around it for an expanded, holistic, next-gen approach to planning. The site of the Greenway has soil contamination in the form of unregulated fill (cinders, brick, black top, and sand) which is not toxic along with a small area of arsenic cleanup.
Throughout the presentations there was a theme of returning back to the Flats as the immigrant population that once lived there was removed due to flooding. The vision for the West Side Flats is a mixed use urban village for all with the Greenway as the most prominent green space in the neighborhood. The Greenway will be part of a larger amenity complex with connections to a river walk and bike trails to make the park a multiuse amenity for residents.
However, there are a number of challenges that come with this project as well, the most important being the creative use of limited space. The area for the Greenway will not just be a park but a stormwater management site. There will be a stormwater pond to protect the area which is designed to withstand five year floods while also being a stormwater treatment area. Making this limited space a successful water management system and an appealing park able to support a large population is further compounded by the presence of the railroad and the existence of utilities that cannot be built on or have trees on as access is still needed. These challenges are daunting but involving community in the design process will help the community understand the process.
The West Side Flats Greenway is using a stacked-function green infrastructure concept where private property owners are partnering with the City of Saint Paul to use green design to manage stormwater runoff, reduce sewer overflows, and improve water quality. Barr Engineering is coordinating master planning for the stormwater functions of the Greenway. The City itself is implementing the process in a different way as the maintenance, operation, and assessment of the site is being done through multiple department partnerships instead of one department and is a learning process for all.
This meeting was all about helping the community understand the potential for the space along with the challenges that come along with it. Minnesota Brownfields was on hand to give insights into how projects like this have been handled in the past and what kinds of remediation need to be done at this area in particular. The next community meeting will be in 6 to 8 weeks where Barr Engineering will bring in proposals for the community to learn about and discuss.
|Our 9th annual State of Brownfields Update was June 28, 2016. The program included A Look Back: 10 years of Minnesota Brownfields, updates from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, and more.
Minnesota Brownfields hosted the Minnesota Real Estate Journal‘s 2016 Redevelopment Summit on May 19. Click the links below to access speaker presentations:
How Redevelopment Supports a Strong Regional Economy – Cecile Bedor, GREATER MSP
Surburban Redevelopment: Northern Stacks 1 – From Blight to Office Development in Fridley
Scott Hickok, City of Fridley
Paul Hyde, Hyde Development
Chris Thompson, Braun Intertec
Hot Neighborhoods: University Avenue Innovation District – A Tale of Two Cities
Brandon Champeau, United Properties
John Evans, Hennepin County
Dick Gilyard, Prospect Park
Julie Kimble, Kimble Consulting
Greater Minnesota Redevelopment: Spotlight on Mankato
Kristin Prososki, City of Mankato
How To: Rules and Tools that Enable Redevelopment on Brownfields
Shanna Schmitt, Minnesota Pollution Control Agency
Kristin Lukes, Minnesota Department of Employment & Economic Development
Martha Faust, Minnesota Brownfields
Stormwater Management on Brownfields
Minnesota Brownfields looked into stormwater management on brownfield sites, during and after remediation. This event covered topics including:
- Regulations and enforcement
- Emerging issues, new technology, and green infrastructure
- Subsurface Contamination- groundwater and soil
- Liability and Concerns for Plume and Vapor Intrusion
- Long term management vs management during construction
- Successes, headaches and challenges on diverse case study sites: Atlas Cement (Duluth), Beacon Bluff (St. Paul), and Prospect Park (Minneapolis)
CONFIRMED MODERATORS & SPEAKERS:
Ross Bintner, City of Edina
Nathan Campeau, Barr Engineering
Eric Dott, Barr Engineering
Dan Fetter, Barr Engineering
Mary Finch, Hennepin County
Mike Hayman, Minnehaha Creek Watershed District
Rebecca Higgins, Minnesota Pollution Control Agency
Monte Hilleman, St. Paul Port Authority
Dan Kalmon, Mississippi Watershed Management Authority
Joe Otte, Wenck Associates
Jeff Shopek, Loucks Associates
Shawn Tracy, HR Green
Mike Trojan, Minnesota Pollution Control Agency
Michael Welch, Smith Partners
See the agenda here.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Natalie Brown
SAINT PAUL, MINN.—(April 22, 2015)—A newly-published report by Minnesota Brownfields, Benefits of Brownfield Redevelopment shares how redevelopment of idled, contaminated commercial industrial properties can lead Minnesota’s communities to economic growth and community revitalization while improving the environment. Three fact sheets summarize the work.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency defines brownfields as “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”. A total of 77,502 acres (or 121 square miles) have been enrolled in Minnesota Pollution Control Agency programs since 1995, an area greater than the combined area of the cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul (114 square miles). Despite this progress, Minnesota Brownfields conservatively estimates that at least 10,000 brownfield sites remain in Minnesota, concentrated in urban areas but found in nearly every community throughout the state. The report shows that redeveloping brownfields creates and retains jobs, increases local tax base, and enables efficient reuse of existing infrastructure.
Substantial environmental benefits result from reusing brownfield properties. Brownfield redevelopment reduces transportation-related vehicle miles travelled, greenhouse gas emissions per capita by 20-57% relative to conventional greenfield development. Redevelopment projects also produce substantially less stormwater runoff, and reduce air emissions by 32-57% relative to greenfield developments.
Finally, brownfield sites allow Minnesota’s communities to respond to increasing market preference by millennials, baby boomers, and seniors for vibrant, walkable communities with transportation choices, jobs, and urban amenities. “Minnesota has long been a leader in recycling brownfields for new uses while protecting the environment. We have a fantastic opportunity now to re-purpose contaminated sites into new housing, jobs, and greenspace to meet the needs of tomorrow’s residents and workers”, said Martha Faust, Executive Director of Minnesota Brownfields.
About Minnesota Brownfields:
Minnesota Brownfields is a 501-c3 nonprofit organization. Founded in 2006, its mission is to promote, through education, research, and partnerships, the efficient cleanup of brownfield redevelopment as a means of generating economic growth, strengthening communities and enabling sustainable land use and development.
About 60 redevelopment professionals gathered in Washington, DC last week to review abstracts for the 2015 EPA Brownfields Conference. I joined a small group in the Creating More Sustainable Communities track. Our group was impressed by excellent proposals from around the country spanning topics ranging from climate change, to green infrastructure, renewable energy, public benefit reuse, urban agriculture, and smart growth. It made our work more challenging, but in the end I think we came up with a strong list of offerings. And it was a great networking opportunity for Minnesota Brownfields.
The EPA will soon announce selected sessions within the next month. If your organization is considering purchasing an exhibit booth, please do so soon. Given the smaller conference venue, exhibit space and hotel rooms are expected to fill up quickly. Natalie Brown and I are now registered to attend the conference. Are you?
View the Request for Qualifications here.
Minnesota Brownfields requests qualifications and fee schedules from environmental consulting firms for the assessment and cleanup of properties known or suspected of being impacted by pollutants, contaminants, or hazardous waste. Requests will be considered from companies that have an executed Master Agreement for Professional Consulting Services with Hennepin County for the work types Asbestos, Lead Paint, and Regulated Building Materials Assessment and Removal Oversight, and/or Environmental Property Assessment and Cleanup; and are a member of Minnesota Brownfields.
The Brownfield Gap Financing Program (BGFP) provides small grants to nonprofits for environmental assessment and clean-up of property in Hennepin County through funding from the Environmental Response Fund (ERF). This fund is intended to assist projects that will benefit the community through the development or clean-up of greenspace, recreation centers, affordable housing, education centers, community centers, and neighborhood level economic development opportunities.
More information about the BGFP and past project examples can be found here.
Requests must be submitted by 12:00 noon on Thursday, March 5th. See the RFQ for more submittal details.
Brownfields 2015 will be held in Chicago September 2-4, 2015. I attended a local planning committee meeting in Chicago on November 12 along with 70 other representatives from throughout EPA Region V. What I learned:
- Downtown Chicago will be center-stage with conference sessions split between the Hilton Chicago and the nearby Palmer House Hilton. The Hilton Chicago has 5200 rooms (hint: don’t wait to book your room). Hotel info will be available in December.
- Regardless of conference location, Region V sends more attendees than any other EPA Region (yay, Region V!).
- The highest EPA Brownfields conference attendance was in Detroit in 2009 (7000+ attendees).
- 500-600 conference session ideas are expected by the December 8 deadline. Learn more here.
- The 2015 conference will feature more educational sessions than ever. Mobile workshops will all occur on September 1.
With the spectacular City of Chicago as a backdrop, it should be a great conference. To learn more, visit the EPA Brownfields 2015 conference website.
Twelve finalists were selected by panels of independent judges for the 2014 Minnesota Brownfield ReScape Awards. Winners will be announced at the awards ceremony on Thursday, October 23rd.
COMMUNITY IMPACT CATEGORY
- Metro Green Line CCLRT- Minneapolis/St. Paul
- Mississippi Watershed Management Organization Community Facility- Minneapolis
- Rising Cedar- Minneapolis
ECONOMIC IMPACT CATEGORY
ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT CATEGORY
- Blumberg 1831- Duluth
- Mississippi Watershed Management Organization Community Facility- Minneapolis
- Schmidt Artist Lofts- St. Paul
SMALL CITY IMPACT CATEGORY
On May 14th, Martha Faust, the Executive Director of Minnesota Brownfields, along with Scott Marquardt organized a tour of remediated brownfield sites on the East Side of St. Paul for a group of participants in the Mission Investors Exchange National Conference. The bus tour visited a number of sites in the East Side, including Beacon Bluff, Baldinger Bakery, Urban Organics at the Hamm’s Brewery, and the Bruce Vento Nature Sanctuary.
The first stop was Beacon Bluff, the former 3M world headquarters that was acquired by the St. Paul Port Authority in 2009. Since then, the site has been cleaned up and is now being sold in parcels for redevelopment by private companies. Next, the tour visited Baldinger Bakery, a state-of-the-art industrial bakery that produces buns and rolls for McDonald’s and Arby’s. The LEED Silver certified building is remarkably efficient, recovering heat from the oven stack to power itself and reduce the need for conventional electricity.
The third stop was Urban Organics, a year-round organic farm based in the former Hamm’s Brewery. In partnership with Pentair, Urban Organics uses an aquaponic system to grow greens and tilapia. In this way, the fish waste provides nourishment for the vegetables and the vegetables in turn clean the water for the fish. The operations at Urban Organics are highly efficient, using just 2% of the water used in conventional farming, and have provided a base for further re-use of the Hamm’s Brewery site.
The last stop of the tour was the Bruce Vento Nature Sanctuary, a 27-acre park in the Mississippi River floodplain on former industrial and railroad land. The park that stands there today is the result of a collaborative effort between the Lower Phalen Creek Project, the Trust for Public Land, and the City of St. Paul. Not only does the park provide green space for residents of the East Side, but also its trails connect throughout the East Side as part of the Bruce Vento Regional Trail.
The following video presents highlights of the bus tour:
We’re pleased to share results from a 24-month study evaluating the potential for cost savings associated with the off-site reuse of soil at brownfield sites and the legal framework surrounding soil reuse. Study objectives were to:
- Gather site-specific data on soil-reuse activities, costs, and driving and limiting factors for soil reuse in Minnesota.
- Examine and quantify the economic impacts of off-site soil disposal versus off-site soil reuse for marginally contaminated soil.
- Examine and quantify environmental impacts of off-site soil disposal versus off-site soil reuse.
- Summarize the regulatory and statutory evolution and current policy status of off-site soil reuse in Minnesota.
- Define the barriers to off-site soil reuse in Minnesota, both in practical application and policy.
- Recommend solutions to encourage and increase off-site reuse of marginally contaminated soil.
Want to learn more? Attend our May 15th forum.
We’re refining our work program for the next 2 years, and need your input! Please take this brief survey on our education, research, policy, and local assistance programs. Thanks in advance for your time.
The Board members of Minnesota Brownfields are proud to provide a summary of our mission-based activities and events through our Annual Reports.
Our thanks to our many members, sponsors and friends for the support they have provided to enable Minnesota Brownfields to carry out its work.
These projects were selected from a list of finalistsfor special recognition for excellence in brownfield cleanup and redevelopment.
Community Impact Category: El Colegio – El Patio, Minneapolis
Economic Impact Category: Canal Park Brewing, Duluth
Environmental Impact Category: Robbinsdale Middle School, Robbinsdale
Small City Impact Category: Birch Lake Business Center, White Bear Township
Read more about all of the finalists HERE.
Successful transit-orented development (TOD) requires strategic integration of land-use planning, transportation planning, and resource allocation throughout all project steps, such that public investments leverage maximal community benefit while laying a foundation for continued economic development. Brownfields reuse is an important component of this process. Metro areas throughout the U.S. are currently confronting this dual challenge, implementing transit projects with significant redevelopment opportunities.
Minnesota Brownfields has authored a brief guide examining the challenges specific to redevelopment within transit corridors, and highlighting innovative approaches and redevelopment strategies from selected U.S. metro areas and in the Twin Cities.
Read the guide
This report was made possible through funding by The McKnight Foundation.
Minnesota Brownfields publishes regular e-communications on national and state news related to cleanup and redevelopment of polluted sites. If you aren’t already a subscriber, click here to join our mailing list.
The winners of the 2012 ReScape Awards were selected by a panel of independent judges. Winners in each of three categories were announced on November 15 at the Union Depot in downtown St. Paul.
Read more about them:
Community Impact Category: CLYDE PARK, Duluth
Economic Impact Category: RIVER OF GOODS/TERRYBEAR URNS AND MEMORIALS, St. Paul
Environmental Impact Category: COMO STUDENT HOUSING COOPERATIVE, Minneapolis
Congratulations again to all the nine finalist projects and all of the project nominations.
Nine finalists — listed below in alphabetical order — have been selected by a panel of independent judges for the 2012 Minnesota Brownfield ReScape Awards. The winner in each category will be announced on November 15.
Read more about them.
COMMUNITY IMPACT CATEGORY
ECONOMIC IMPACT CATEGORY
- Clyde Park – Duluth
- River of Goods/Terrybear Urns & Memorials – St. Paul
- Sydney Hall & Dinkydome Redevelopment – Minneapolis
ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT CATEGORY