Thursday, November 15, 2007

New Coordinator Revitalizes Brownfields ReUse Program

In less than three months on the job as the Coordinator of the Lehigh Valley Land Recycling Initiative (LVLRI), Holly Wilde Edinger has revitalized the program by refocusing attention on the potential of brownfield sites across the Valley.

From the Riverfront project along the Lehigh River in Allentown to the Coca-Cola Stadium at the former Agere site to a proposed new recycling and composting facility in East Allen Township, LVLRI and Edinger have been working to bring renewed attention to the potential of former industrial sites throughout the Lehigh Valley.

LVLRI is assisting the DunnTwiggar Company in the redevelopment of the Lehigh Steel Property along the Allentown waterfront. By utilizing EPA Grant dollars for assessment work LVLRI has funded over $25,000 for environmental investigation on the 26-acre site. LVLRI recently secured from the EPA through the Targeted Brownfield Assessment Program. This additional work with provide the necessary site characterization data to pursue site closure under Pennsylvania’s Land Recycling Program (Act 2).

“Helping a developer identify environmental impacts before the purchase the property gives a project clarity that moves it forward,” Edinger said. “Developers can be put off by the history of a property. Our initiative uses the EPA Assessment Grant to perform Phase I and II investigations on a site. This gives a developer a clear idea of what they are getting into. It can also provide the peace of mind to a lending institution involved in the project.”

LVLRI is also working with East Allen Township. Partnering with East Allen and The First Regional Compost Authority the group has identified an old dairy farm, owned by the township, to be redeveloped into a multi-municipality compost and possible recycling center. LVLRI will be providing Phase I and II assessment of this property and will assist the township and the First Regional Compost Authority in identifying resources to clean up the site and get it ready for the recycling center.

“This is a terrific project because it taking a brownfield and using it for something green, like recycling,” said Edinger.

LVLRI also worked with the City of Allentown and Lehigh County to secure insurance for the new Iron Pigs baseball stadium that will open in April 2008.

An Allentown resident with a Bachelor of Science degree from Philadelphia University, Edinger was hired in August to work with LVEDC and Lehigh and Northampton County economic development leaders to encourage the redevelopment of industrial and commercial buildings and sites – commonly known as brownfields -- that are underutilized, abandoned or in need of rehabilitation. The position is funded through grants from Lehigh and Northampton counties and the LVLRI program is managed by LVEDC.

LVLRI is financially supported by Lehigh and Northampton Counties.

Edinger said the potential to redevelop unused or underutilized commercial and industrial sites presents a variety of opportunities for the Lehigh Valley.

“We can protect taxpayers by putting these properties back into productive use and back on the tax rolls, we can preserve open space by redirecting appropriate development to our urban cores, and we can save money for the developers by giving them access to sites that in most cases already have the infrastructure to support their plans,” Edinger said.

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