If I may enter this discussion between two learned practitioners I know
fairly well ... it appears that what we have here a reflection of the
classic problem of the US focus on SITES, while the rest of the world
addresses AREAS. |
Larry is discussing whether a particular site, and a particular
(private) developer deserves a subsidy from state funds that are
designated for addressing contamination issues when there exist other
state and national funds, in separate pots, accessed differently, that
may help address dereliction and abandonment or the general need for
attracting capital to an impoverished area.
Paul is providing the rationale for investing in the area, with
the presumption that, if the non-contamination issues that contribute
to the failure to driving capital away from that are addressed, then
the funds will be available to mitigate and reuse the contaminated site.
As a general proposition, of course it is appropriate to use public
funds to turn around otherwise depressed areas and attempt to attract
private capital. However, subsidizing individual parcels within those
areas is a different question. As Larry would have it, and I am
inclined to agree with him on this, funds designated for environmental
responses should not be used for other redevelopment purposes.
However, Paul does have a point: if attracting investment to one site
that is not polluted leads to a change in perception of an area or
neighborhood and makes it more attractive to investors. At lease
hypothetically, such a transformational investment might raise the
market value of nearby brownfields to a level that they could then
attract capital without further subsidy. In this case, it might be
justifiable to use brownfield monies for a project that does not
directly involve remediating contamination.
Granting the possibility that Paul's vision suggests, however, does not
mean that it makes sense to use funds that are designated for
contamination mitigation for the purpose. Such a use of brownfield
funds would be justified in my view if two standards were met:
(1) there were not other funds for economic development or renewal
that could have been used for the uncontaminated site - or the funds
available were insufficient, and,
(2) there was evidence on the basis of past patterns of investment
and/or specific declarations and commitments from developers, that the
redevelopment of the uncontaminated site would lead to their investing
in the brownfield with no further (or substantially reduced) subsidy.
Brownfields mailing list