1999 CPEO Brownfields List Archive

From: Lenny Siegel <lsiegel@cpeo.org>
Date: Thu, 20 May 1999 16:52:33 -0700 (PDT)
Reply: cpeo-brownfields
Subject: All Open Space Is Not Equal
I've been trying to stay out of the discussion until I had a chance to
read the TPL report, but I can't hold off any longer.

All open space is not created equal. There are wildlife refuges, soccer
fields, playgrounds, golf courses, urban trails, etc. Each has its own
value to the surrounding community. Each has its own economic value. And
the value varies with the distance from the open space. Sometimes people
like being a block or two from a park, but they don't like the noise if
it's just over the back fence.

Here in Mountain View, California, our city has just completed a new
section of the Stevens Creek Trail, a paved trail which follows a fairly
natural creek, a freeway, and a high-tension power line right-of-way.
Technically it's not a brownfield, since I don't think there were ever
any reports of contamination, but definitely it's recycled land.

The trail serves a population which is diverse by race/ethnicity, age,
and income. It is used by walkers, bicyclists, roller bladers, babies in
strollers, and dogs. (The strollers and dogs are usually accompanied.)
It connects baylands to an apartment area to a fairly stable
middle-class neighborhood. 

By almost any measure, it's an enormous success. There's no obvious
gentrification impact, perhaps because our area already is suffering
from escalating housing costs.

But its extension is opposed by upstream neighbors, who fear it will
bring outsiders to the seemingly private open spaces at the edge of
their neighborhood.

Any Brownfields project that creates similar open space should be
considered an environmental justice success story.

Lenny Siegel


Lenny Siegel
Director, Center for Public Environmental Oversight
c/o PSC, 222B View St., Mountain View, CA 94041
Voice: 650/961-8918 or 650/969-1545
Fax: 650/968-1126
MY OLD E-MAIL ADDRESS: lsiegel@igc.org)

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