Legislation Included in Executive Budget Would Bolster Efficiency for Brownfield Opportunity Area Program; Maintain Funding at $2 Million
State's Brownfield Clean Up Program Issued 62 Certificates of Completion in 2017; Highest Annual Total Ever Issued by DEC
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced legislation that would streamline the application process of and maintain state funding at $2 million for the Brownfield Opportunity Area Program in New York State. The Brownfield Opportunity Area Program provides grants to local governments and community-based organizations to address the complex changes related to concentrations of brownfields and vacant and underutilized properties in downtowns and in neighborhoods. The grants support realistic, community-driven plans for redevelopment, providing a roadmap to transform blighted properties into vital community assets. In the FY 2019 Executive Budget, the Governor has outlined proposed changes to streamline the process and continue funding for the program.
"This program has helped communities in every corner of New York transform blighted and neglected properties into economic engines," Governor Cuomo said. "By reforming and streamlining this process, we will help ensure more local governments have access to tools and resources they need to help New York continue to thrive."
The Governor's FY 2019 Executive Budget includes reforms to the Brownfield Opportunity Area Program that would:
- Streamline planning by eliminating the existing pre-nomination step and creating a single-step community-based process to achieve Brownfield Opportunity Area designation;
- Allow for existing plans or plans developed outside the Brownfield Opportunity Area process that meet general criteria to qualify for the program; and
- Allow existing Brownfield Opportunity Areas to apply for financial assistance for pre-development grants.
The proposed changes will streamline the planning process and timeline for communities participating in the Brownfield Opportunity Area program, enhancing and leveraging the Brownfield Cleanup Program tax credits, bonds and other benefits awarded through this program to other state funded projects. Developers, property owners and others with projects and properties located within the designated Brownfield Opportunity Areas are eligible to access additional Brownfield tax incentives to develop projects aimed at transforming dormant and blighted areas in their communities and putting them back into productive use. In addition, projects within each designated Brownfield Opportunity Area is also entitled to receive priority and preference for certain State grants. There are currently 44 designated Brownfield Opportunity Area Program throughout the state. By transforming New York's neglected properties, the program capitalizes on the economic and community-based potential in downtowns across the state, serving as catalysts for neighborhood-wide revitalization.
The Brownfield Opportunity Area program has been a key driver of community revitalization throughout the state as strategic sites are being cleaned up and redeveloped. Participation in the program has better prepared communities to compete for federal, state and local economic development opportunities.
The Department of State works in partnership with local communities and organizations to develop and realize a community vision for redevelopment and community revitalization. The type of neighborhoods and areas where program resources are being applied include industrial/manufacturing, commercial corridors, residential, downtowns and waterfronts. Through this Brownfield Opportunity Area Program, sites and areas are transformed from liabilities to community assets that generate businesses, jobs and revenues for local economies and provide new housing and public amenities.
New York State Secretary of State Rossana Rosado said, "Governor Cuomo's plan to deliver even more efficiencies to this vital program will make it easier for local governments and advocates to access resources needed to spur improvements in their urban centers. The BOA program is a catalyst to bring much-needed improvements to communities across the state. With these funds, localities are able to establish foundations to clean up contaminated sites, forge economic growth and instill a sense of pride."
Additionally, the Governor announced that the state's Brownfield Cleanup Program issued 62 "Certificates of Completion" in 2017, the highest annual total ever issued by the State Department of Environmental Conservation. To date, DEC has issued 364 certificates for brownfield cleanups since the program was established in 2003. The program encourages the voluntary cleanup of contaminated properties known as brownfields so that these sites can be responsibly reused and redeveloped. DEC issues a Certificate of Completion at the completion of a brownfield project only after determining that cleanup objectives for the site have been achieved and the remediation is protective of public health and the environment. After receiving the certificate, the applicant is eligible to redevelop the site subject to certain restrictions, if applicable, depending on its intended future use.
DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said, "New York's Brownfield Opportunity Areas and Cleanup programs are advancing the restoration of blighted areas in communities across the state and putting dozens of underutilized properties back into productive use. The cleanup and restoration of brownfield properties are critical to safeguarding public health, protecting the environment, and developing community assets that have the potential to energize local economies and quality of life."
Further information, including designation details and nomination planning documents associated with the Brownfield Opportunity Area Program, is available here.