1998 CPEO Brownfields List Archive

From: "Theodore J. Henry" <thenry@umaryland.edu>
Date: 28 Jan 1998 08:52:47
Reply: cpeo-brownfields
Subject: Re: Brownfield Benchmark Research
Mr. Hoffman

Although too busy on this particular evening to provide significant

comment, I thought I should make a point or two on your recent posting
given my recent experience of submitting comments to the Maryland
Department of the Environment on a site. My comments are marked
by ***, and hopefully this food for thought will generate further
exploration of what seems to be a very interesting and important project. 

On Mon, 26 Jan 1998, Richard Hoffman wrote:

> I am conducting research on brownfields for the Council for Urban
> Economic Development in D.C.  My project is an attempt to develop a
> methodology for benchmarking brownfield projects and to gather this
> direct, measurable data for approximately 50-100 sites.   I would be
> grateful for any advice or resources that the members of this newsgroup
> could provide with respect to the benchmarks I have proposed, efficient
> ways to collect this data, and sources for more information.  
> Below are my initial thoughts on benchmarking.
> Thanks in advance for your thoughts,
> -Rich Hoffman
> Council for Urban Economic Development (CUED)
> _________
> I have used three categories of benchmarks:  1) economic, 2)
> environmental and 3) social, while recognizing the overlapping nature of
> these benefits.  Our focus will be on economic benefits.  Hopefully,
> measuring the impacts of brownfield redevelopment will provide economic
> development practitioners and other decision makers to weigh investments
> in brownfields with other economic development options.
> 4.  Jobs
> Define a "job" as a person who has been employed for at least 6 months
> in a full-time capacity. 
> a.  Quantity
> For each project, only measure direct jobs, both created or retained. 
> Direct jobs are those that are associated with the project itself.  I
> may also choose to consider indirect jobs when evaluating the aggregate
> figures.  Indirect jobs are those that result from (or spin off from)
> the direct jobs and private sector investment.  Because of the
> difficulty in obtaining this number, we rely on a standard multiplier.
> b.  Quality
> Characterize the quality of the jobs by using average salary as a
> proxy.  Derive this figure by obtaining the total payroll and number of
> employees from each employer.  I may also use criteria such as job
> longevity, turnover, and % of employees above minimum wage.  
> c.  Job Attribution
> Calculate the cost to the public sector of job creation.   For this
> statistic, I will use DIRECT jobs and ALL public funding.  I can also
> calculate jobs created per primary public funder to compare with other
> studies.  
> 5.  Tax base
> The total cost of the project minus the remediation costs will serve as
> a proxy for the increase to the local tax base.  

*** I would think that the number of local jobs must be part of the
economic analysis.  My experience with communities tells me that this is a
critical part of the equation, and not just on a social level
Jobs for those in the neighborhood are important to ensure. Certainly,
such a requirement by the local community is valid since they will be the
ones to live with the clean-up decisions at many of these Brownfield
sites.  While I think you are aware of this point from your description
under the social section, for clarity of direction and so others
parties don't underestimate the significance of this issue, I thought I
should mention this as food for thought.

> I will use the public and private sector investment in remediation (from
> data above) as a gauge of the  amount of environmental clean up.  Our
> assumption is that the more money spent on clean up, the more
> remediation is accomplished.  I will need to factor the land's end use
> into this equation to get an accurate picture (e.g. industrial use will
> not require same amount of remediation as residential).
> Where available, I will apply an EPA risk measurement (e.g. incidence of
> cancer/1 million people).  Any suggestions for this?  

*** This will be a tricky issue to address, since the spending of more
money will not necessarily reflect more clean-up, particularly for sites
that have been owned for quite some time by a group wanting to lease or
sell the property for development.  In a case where a company has been
making an effort to move the site for some time, much of the money may
have been spent on characterization and addressing clear-cut contamination
such as barrels of PCB contaminated fluid, racking up a significant price
tag for "show of effort". Yet, other contamination such as lead in soil
remains unaddressed which could pose an equal or greater risk depending on
the specifics.

***Additionally, your efforts should consider types of contamination
addressed, since the remediation of certain types of contamination carry
different-sized price tags.  Of course, this leads into a concern that
remedial agreements regarding what is removed and what is addressed by
unproven institutional controls (such as deed restrictions) may be
dictated by cost of clean-up versus risk.  Such possibilities support the
need for a clear and strong community presence in the process.

***Whether it is in the environmental section or part of the overall
analysis, your efforts should explore the ground lost in better, more
permanent clean-ups in relation to what is gained (and lost) in the
economic and social arenas. Such economic losses will be remediation
costs later down the road when the site is used for a different purpose,
there is a better understanding of health or contamination migration
factors, etc. These costs down the road are rarely looked at but usually
show up (one of the reasons behind the decision decades ago to use
Depleted Uranium over tungsten in military weapons was the low cost of DU,
but this choice certainly will cost us quite a bit just considering the
fiscal perspective alone in the years to come). I have already seen
proposals that leave levels of contamination in place that far exceed
levels often requiring remediation under industrial scenarios via CERCLA.
This will be important to track in our long-term assessment of efforts to
implement Brownfields in a balanced fashion. 

> Another important measure is the creation of amenities, such as parks. 
> We will discuss this if applicable.    

***While this issue is important under the environmental section as one
considers end-use and future risk, the way parks are described here may be
more appropriate for the social benchmark section.


Ted Henry
CHAPP Center (Community Health Assessment & Public Participation Center)
Program in Toxicology
University of Maryland

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