2000 CPEO Brownfields List Archive

From: alan@teleport.com
Date: Fri, 29 Sep 2000 10:21:32 -0700 (PDT)
Reply: cpeo-brownfields
Subject: [CPEO-BIF] Community-Based Site Selection in Portland, OR
A New Model: Community-Based Site Selection
The community speaks for itself.  This fundamental promise of
environmental justice is too often ignored in brownfields efforts.  The
affected community is regularly absent from the decisionmaking table,
leaving developers, lenders, regulators and other government officials to
decide which properties will be cleaned up and what they will become.  In
Portland, OR, an innovative partnership between the community, the
government and the private sector has realized a new model: community based
site selection.

The N/NE Portland Brownfields Community Advisory Committee (CAC), a part 
of the City's EPA-designated Brownfields Showcase project, has worked
together since late 1998 to design and implement outreach efforts, to
develop site selection criteria, as well to identify potential sites and 
solicit participation from property owners. The CAC's diverse membership
includes educators, community development experts, local business owners,
environmental justice advocates, lawyers, planners, environmental health
specialists and other community representatives.  All live or work in N/NE
Portland, the city's most racially and economically diverse neighborhoods
and home to a disproportionate number of its brownfields.  People of color
- African Americans, Native Americans, Hispanics - comprise the majority of
the CAC.  The charge was to design outreach efforts that could involve
community residents in brownfields decisions, and select 8 sites for
publicly funded assessments. 

The CAC held three community forums, all in the evening at accessible
community locations (a high school, a church, a cultural center).
Interested property owners presented information on their sites, including
known or suspected contamination and how their redevelopment plans would
benefit the community.  After a question and answer session,
attending community residents voted on which sites to recommend for
publicly funded assessments.  This is significant and warrants repeating:
Community members decided which sites would receive public sector resources
for assessment, setting in motion a process that should lead to cleanup and

The sites are unique.  Many are owned by community residents or nonprofit
organizations, and the redevelopments proposed will provide economic,
housing or cultural opportunities for low income people and people of
color.  The Port City Redevelopment Center will cleanup and redevelop and
old battery factory, turning it into a training and housing facility for
the developmentally disabled.  The Strongs, local business owners, plan to
develop mixed income housing and retail space with a cultural center
focusing on Portland's African American history.  A third site, a former
gas station owned by Delta Sigma Theta (an African American Sorority), will
become transitional senior housing with childcare and community facilities,
overlooking a neighborhood park.  Another site, located in the King
Neighborhood, will become a small park 
with environmental education programs.  Notably, these are not high
profile, waterfront sites.  They are smaller, neighborhood based sites
located close to homes, schools and churches; close to where people live,
work, play, learn and pray.

This was not an easy process, nor one that moved as quickly as the
traditional, exclusive model.  We are confident, however, that it is a
better process.  It is one that enhances the community's capacity to access
and impact brownfields decisionmaking and, therefore, better ensures that
community members really benefit from brownfields activities and
investments in their neighborhoods.  It is also a process that can be
improved upon through replication, and the CAC is actively looking for
opportunities to share our experiences.  We hope to hear from you.

Please check out the CAC's presentation at Brownfields 2000 in Panel
Session 2.8 Hey Neighbor!  Tapping All Brownfields Resources.

For more information on the CAC, please reply to this posting or email
Warren Fluker, CAC Chair, at:  wfluker@msn.com

For more information on the Portland Brownfields Showcase, please email
Domonic Boswell, Project Manager, at:  dboswell@ci.portland.or.us

To read CPEO's archived Brownfields messages visit

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