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  • 2 Dec 2021 2:39 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    By Steve Dwyer 

    They hail from four campuses of the City University of New York (CUNY): Baruch College, York College,  City College of New York (CCNY),  and the CUNY Graduate School of Public Health,   and from New York University (NYU) and Columbia University. 

    They are the recipients of the 2021 Abbey Duncan Brownfield Scholarship Program, an annual event designed to provide financial support to undergraduate and graduate students pursuing careers in the brownfield industry in New York City.  

    The program was so named in honor of the avid environmentalist, talented dancer and tireless community supporter who passed years ago. 

    Administered by the NYC Brownfield Partnership, the scholarships are one-time awards of up to $5,000, where funds are disbursed directly to the college at which the student is enrolled in coordination with the school’s financial aid office.

    And this year—perhaps more than some other years—local college/university diversity reigned supreme. In fact, not only were most all institutions represented but the recipients all harbor vast and diverse callings within the redevelopment industry.

    The 2021 recipients included: Taylor Hard, CUNY; Vivian Chan, in her final year at Baruch College with a career emphasis in public administration; Gurwinder Sahota, CUNY York College, a geology major working as an assistant site supervisor; Trent Strachan, CCNY, holding an interested in indoor air quality and brownfield cleanups; Eva Grunblatt, Columbia University graduate, eager to work in brownfields and currently working on her senior design thesis; and Michelle Ren, a student at NYU with an eye on brownfields.

    In September,  the Partnership board members scheduled a Zoom call that included outgoing president Ernie Rossano, incoming president and current vp Ezgi Karayel, treasurer Michele Rogers, secretary Laura Senkevitch, executive director Susan Boyle, and board members Mari Cate Conlon, Mary Manto and Keith Brodock. 

    The Partnership members used the 1-hour Zoom conference to allow scholarship recipients to showcase their skills and promote themselves; to remind them that since they’re all students they qualify to become NYCBP members at no cost; and to inquire about how they have been coping within the COVID-19 pandemic era.

    Repeat Recipient Ascending 

    Taylor Hard, a project manager at the NYC Mayor's Office of Environmental Remediation (OER) where she manages brownfield redevelopment project, is what you call a “seasoned veteran” of brownfields: not only due to holding a position within a high-profile New York City office but Taylor has notched the Duncan scholarship two years consecutively. It’s proof positive that she read the fine print about eligibility (see below) and also showed a dogged determination to vie for it a second time. 

    Attending the CUNY School of Public Health, Taylor had worked in the private environmental consulting sector for a couple of years, studying geology as her undergrad. In May 2022, she will be graduating from the CUNY School of Public Health and Health Policy with an MPH in community health. “I write a lot about environmental justice, building conditions, renter’s rights and more. I've also been part of the Partnership for pretty much the entire five years that I've been here at OER, and had a lot of really great experiences going to their events,” she says. 

    During the Zoom, Taylor encouraged her fellow recipients to scout for paid internships—something she once took advantage of. Taylor says that OER, in the future, might be reviving its paid internship program…and they should keep an eye out for the opportunity.     

    Other first-time recipients might want to tap into some big-time inspiration from Taylor Hard’s story. One might be 2021 recipient Michelle Ren, a junior majoring in civil engineering at New York University—and also minoring in environmental engineering.  

    Vivian Chan enters her final graduate school year at Baruch, studying in the public administrator track. “My interests are in sustainability, health care and housing. I'm really grateful for the scholarship because it actually allowed me to pursue my interest in this field,” she says. “I love the networking part of it, and want to know about how to receive emails to be alerted to news.” 

    (Editor’s Note:  As a member of the Partnership, you receive all of the email blasts.  Student membership is free of charge). 

    Meantime, Trent Straughn is studying in the Environmental Engineering program at City College of New York. “I'm interested in indoor air quality and [am intrigued by] brownfields, the cleanup of brownfields. I'm grateful for this opportunity and thank you for the scholarship,” he told those on the call. 

    Eva Grunblat, a recent graduate at Columbia U, is currently “on the job hunt,” and hoping to work within the brownfields space. “I am specifically studying peripheral alcohols as part of senior design thesis,” she says.  

    The Zoom conference was getting close to wrapping up its hour when Ricardo Sheler, a student at NYU and a scholarship recipient, came on the call to share his own future career sentiments. “I am studying sustainable urban environmental [a food security intern] with Gov Lab,” he says. “I am eager to work on projects to solve public problems, and this includes [initiatives advocating for] public space and green space, plus brownfield development.”

    Sage Advice Dispensed 

    In addition to being able to showcase themselves on the Zoom call and use it as fuel for future opportunities with Partnership members/companies plus more, the students had a chance to listen to brownfield professionals on the call provide advice for making their job searches easier.  

    Mary Manto. Board Member, told the group that “for entry level people in this industry in New York, you can expect to spend a lot of time outside conducting air monitoring and screening at construction sites. In New York City, a huge amount work is Hazmat environmental work, which, of course, segues nicely into brownfields. It is not uncommon to spend a lot of time outdoors doing this kind of work,” says Manto.  

    Board Member Mari Cate Conlon encouraged students to capitalize on LinkedIn regularly to network. “It’s a very important tool to have a conversation and get your foot in the door. Contract hiring and internships are ways to blossom—you can shine that way, and LinkedIn is a facilitator to it.”

    Sue Boyle, the Partnership’s executive director, told the students that the key is “putting yourself in front of people who can either provide advice or mentoring. If Partnership members see people consistently at events, this demonstrates commitment to working in this industry,” says Boyle. “Have a cup of coffee and come to events: The Partnership is an organization that is happy to share knowledge, and one you can bounce ideas off. Get your name out there because it’s a great way to promote yourself—don’t hesitate.” 

    Boyle also spoke about the differences between public and private sector job opportunities. “If you work in government, it provides a real good opportunity to work in new programs, which is exciting because you can help develop these programs.” She said that sustainability and alternative energy are “still new initiatives, and great places to be.” 

    Keith Brodock, Partnership member,  advised the group that if they opt to join smaller firms, it allows them to take on very broad, horizontal oversight of projects—dabble across multiple disciplines. This way, they can then decide what capacity they want to focus on. “Some folks who want a lot of responsibility right away might be happier in a smaller firm, where people are going to throw a lot more things at you,” he says.  

    For those having a hard time figuring out exactly where to start the process, Partnership members encouraged recipients to log onto the NYCBP membership page to find where all members are listed. 

    The Partnership plans to stay in touch with the scholarship recipients, who, once again, were encouraged to not “be shy about coming to events/virtual events. Keep an eye out for events on the ‘events’ section of the website and sign up for the email list.”

    Abbey Duncan Brownfield Scholarship Program Eligibility

    Scholarship recipients will be selected on a competitive basis. In order to be eligible for the award, students must be:

    • Any undergraduate or graduate student enrolled at colleges in the New York Metropolitan Area;
    • Enrolled in at least one course during the 2021 academic year; and
    • Pursuing studies related to brownfield redevelopment, such as environmental engineering, environmental or geosciences, geology or hydrogeology, environmental policy, environmental planning, environmental justice, environmental law, real estate, sustainable development or industrial hygiene.
  • 2 Dec 2021 2:37 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Troy Record

    Governor Kathy Hochul recently announced the completion of the Starbuck Island redevelopment project, a $65 million investment that transformed more than 11-acres of contaminated oil storage brownfield into a high-density, vibrant waterfront community in the Village of Green Island, Albany County.

    Starbuck Island connects Green Island to downtown Troy and is now home to nearly 270 residential units, a salon, a restaurant and parking.

    “The transformation of Starbuck Island into a new engaging waterfront neighborhood is a testament to the state’s brownfield cleanup program and economic development incentives,” Hochul said. “With the project now complete, residents and visitors to the newest community on the Hudson River can enjoy the many amenities, spectacular views, and local businesses, spurring additional investments to the region.”

    For the entire article, see


  • 22 Nov 2021 3:12 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    On November 18th, we had a joint event with the Brownfield Coalition of the Northeast on the impacts of COVID. This was Part 4 of an ongoing series we have been holding. 

    Based on this event, we have some suggested reading material for all those who are interested:
  • 17 Nov 2021 12:47 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    In keeping with the Partnership’s mission of supporting the education and training of brownfield professionals, workers, and students, we are pleased to share with you the Fall 2021 Issue 2 of Blueprint, the student-led publication of NYU Schack Institute of Real Estate (view here).  We call your attention to the article about the research by  Viquar Chaudhry entitled NY Brownfield Cleanup Program and Tax Credit Analysis. It's found on page 19 of the publication linked above.

    Sound familiar to members of the NYCBP?  It should!  Mr. Chaudhry is the NYU graduate student  who worked alongside Professor Barry Hersh of the NYU SPS Schack Institute of Real Estate under contract to the New York City Brownfield Partnership on the update to the groundbreaking analysis of the NYS Brownfield Tax credits and their importance to remediation and redevelopment throughout the state. If you attended the Annual Membership Meeting of the Partnership on October 28, 2021, you heard both Mr. Chaudhry and Professor Hersh present the results of the analysis. You have access to the report on the Partnership’s website (https://nycbrownfieldpartnership.org/nycbp-industry-news/11911863).

    The Partnership has shared the report with the NYS Bar Association, REBNY, other like-minded real estate and environmental professional organizations, government officials and others interested in the continued success of the New York State Brownfield Program (NYS BCP) and Tax Credits. The Partnership’s report is the only in-depth look at the three generations the NYS BCP and clearly shows that the program has become a “more targeted and effective redevelopment tool across the state. Formerly contaminated industrial sites have been remediated and redeveloped, especially benefitting upstate communities. In NYC, the BCP has made a significant contribution to housing, including affordable housing.”

  • 17 Nov 2021 12:44 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    New York City Brownfield Partnership (NYCBP)  Board Member Emeritus David J. Freeman , Esq. shared this recent article From Gibbons P.C. regarding the New York State Bar Association’s endorsement of a proposed bill amending and extending the New York State Brownfield Cleanup Act.

    NYCBP  is collaborating with the New York State Bar Association and other interested organizations throughout the State on this important topic.  The Partnership provided crucial support to the effort to extend the  NYS Brownfield Cleanup Act by providing extensive data analysis to document  the program’s remediation and redevelopment successes throughout New York State. The NYCBP’s recently released  2021 study (see copy here) is the second update to its groundbreaking 2014 study; all three reports were authored under contract to the NYCPB by New York University’s Schack Institute of Real Estate.

    Please go to this link https://www.gibbonslawalert.com/2021/11/04/new-york-state-bar-association-endorses-amendment-and-extension-of-state-brownfield-cleanup-act/ to read the Gibbons P.C. article in its entirety, including important links to the proposed bill and explanatory reports and detailed analysis.

    A quick summary of the bill:

    • Extends, from December 31, 2022 to December 31, 2032, the deadline for sites to be accepted into the Brownfield Cleanup Program (BCP) and qualify for tax credits. Additional time would also be provided for sites to obtain their Certificates of Completion (COCs), claim site preparation tax credits, and obtain tangible property credits after issuance of COCs.
    • Expands the ability for sites in Potential Environmental Justice Areas and Brownfield Opportunity Areas to qualify for enhanced tax credits.
    • Increases the incentives for renewable energy projects on BCP sites.
    • Expands the effectiveness of the BCP in addressing soil vapor issues, including clarification of the types of soil vapor-related expenditures that qualify for tax credits.
  • 16 Nov 2021 9:33 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Victoria Whelan joins Partnership board with a goal of adding fresh eyes, new perspectives to the organization, industry  

    By Steve Dwyer 

    Want to know the secret formula of becoming a new Partnership board member? 

    If this past year is any indication, it starts with volunteer involvement with the Partnership, often through the Scholarship or Big Apple Brownfield Awards (BABA) Committees.  This volunteerism then immerses you in the group for a couple years and can  lead to consideration as a board member. And once the new member is on board, what comes next is a host of visionary ideas about how to make the organization stronger for the future—with a broadened membership inclusion at the apex of the vision.

    This is the course Victoria Whelan charted when she was named a Partnership board member in October, 2021. She is bringing new perspectives to the time-honored organization, providing a fresh infusion of ideas bound to serve the Partnership well as it evolves further to best represent the ever-changing New York City brownfield industry. 

    Whelan has served as a nomination committee volunteer in the vetting and selection of the BABA awards and became a co-chair of the BABA initiative.

    Whelan, a NYS licensed PG, is senior associate at Preferred Environmental Services (PES), North Merrick, N.Y She joined PES because she was attracted to a smaller-size environmental organization that is a Certified Women-Owned Business Enterprise (WBE) environmental consulting firm. 

    Preferred has become a “go-to” WBE subconsultant for the generation of high-quality environmental data to satisfy the NYC OER, the NYSDEC, the MTA, NYCDEP, NYCEDC, NYCSCA, NYCEDC and the NYCDDC applications for large scale new urban developments.

    This firm has broad experience in all phases of environmental assessment activities, focusing on due diligence, property transfer, environmental claims handling, construction support and environmental restoration. “We run a tight ship. We strive to keep costs down, and that starts with holding down hourly [fees] for developer clients. What is cool about PES is that we are all professional geologists and are true environmental professionals, all licensed in New York.”

    Working for 13 years for another small environmental firm, Whelan “took a break for a while” to work on the contractor side of the business. “I learned a lot about time management in being part of teams with long-term goals at the forefront. People thought I was crazy to work on the contractor side, but the experience allowed me to gain a fresh perspective, and this served me well to better assess what I wanted to focus on for the next 10 years of my career.” 

    Volunteering In Her Blood 

    It’s no surprise the Whelan choose to volunteer for the BABA selection process. Outside of this industry, her passion happens to be rooted in volunteerism. She sits on a board for a non-profit that she started up herself. She adds: “Put good out into this world and good comes back—a small bit of help exponentially helps the community.” The non-profit group, ACE Family Foundation, “helps people where, say a family member is sick, we will help pay for costs not covered by health insurance.”  

    On BABA award involvement, the process entails reviewing application, organizing and planning the event, which involved making up invitations and even “selecting the swag that will be given away.” 

    The BABA experience affords a front row seat to sorting through excellence that underpins NYC brownfield redevelopment. The relationship with the Partnership has now evolved to where Whelan envisions big things for the organization as she eases into her board seat. Championing affordable housing is front and center on her agenda. 

    Affordable Housing Expertise 

    Whelan’s “true passion” is affordable housing developments. She talked about guiding affordable housing developers through the process. “I have been doing this for 15 years as part of a team with affordable housing developers. One of my eternal goals is to help reduce costs for these developers within these AH projects—lower the overhead—and then use the savings created to pump resources back into the communities, all done to enhance the lives of the local residents.” 

    Looking at the roadblocks that occur with affordable housing projects, Whelan says that federal, state and local governing bodies can often hinder progress, and this needs to be better addressed.    “I can help developers navigate the environmental hurdles: in the five NY boroughs, there’s a challenge with space [availability of real estate] for affordable housing projects.”

    BABA keeps Whelan quite busy from Jan to May. She is also working with Board Member  Kevin McCarty to expand the Partnership‘s membership to include small businesses and other Certified Women-Owned Business Enterprise (WBE) environmental businesses, such  as PES. 

    “Some of these smaller-size firms are under the impression that becoming part of the Partnership would not be feasible for them, starting with a misconception about costs of membership.” She wants to flip that script. “I want the Partnership become more inclusive pertaining to the diversity of the member profile. The BABA process also showed me that the same ‘types’ of projects were continually getting nominated and that also needs to diversify.”

    The future—2022 and beyond—looks brighter for what the Partnership can accomplish with a new breed of board member helming the navigation process. Finding prime new board members starts with volunteerism, and so much can dovetail from there. Stay tuned.

  • 25 Oct 2021 10:09 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The New York City Brownfield Partnership, a non-profit public-private partnership promoting the cleanup and redevelopment of brownfield sites in New York City, has just released another update of the groundbreaking 2014 study (updated in 2015) analyzing the impact of the New York State Brownfield Cleanup Program (NYS BCP) on the cleanup and redevelopment of brownfield sites in New York State. The 2014 study, the 2015 update, and the current 2021 study (see copy here) were authored by Barry F. Hersh, Clinical Associate Professor at New York University’s Schack Institute of Real Estate.

    The update analyzes the overall NYS BCP with an emphasis as what has occurred since 2015, which is the third generation of the program.  The key conclusions of the 2021 update include the following:

    • Over three generations the NYS BCP has become a more targeted and effective redevelopment tool across the state. Formerly contaminated industrial sites have been remediated and redeveloped, especially benefitting upstate communities. In NYC, the BCP has made a significant contribution to housing, including affordable housing.
    • The NYS BCP continues to grow; both the number of applications and the number of projects receiving Certificates of Completion (COC) continue to increase.
    • Both the value of private development investment and amount of tax credits also continue to grow. The on-site rate of return consistently shows a ratio of $6.63 in private development for every $1 of tax credits.
    • Legislative changes have resulted in fewer very large tax credits to individual projects, an increase in moderate-sized projects, more affordable housing and Environmental Zone (En-Zone) projects, and more mid-range industrial projects.
    • Brownfield projects have been completed in all regions across New York State and 40 counties.
    • NYS BCP projects in NYC have supported development of 20,000 residential units, of which 6,400 are affordable housing units.
    • More than half of all NYS BCP projects have been located in economically distressed En-Zones, with the proportion of projects in En-Zones increasing since 2015; many BCP projects are also in Environmental Justice and Brownfield Opportunity Areas.
    • As the NYS BCP has grown, Brownfield Tax Credits have become more accepted and incorporated by banks as a part of project financing.

    For further information about the updated study, please contact Ernie Rossano, President of the New York City Brownfield Partnership, at (631) 756-8917, Ezgi Karayel, President-Elect of the New York City Brownfield Partnership, at (347) 871-0750) or George Duke, Chair of the Partnership’s Legislative/Policy Committee, at (646) 915-0236).

  • 27 Sep 2021 1:03 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    By Steve Dwyer

    For Mari Cate Conlon, one of the Partnership’s newest board members, involvement in the organization commenced six years ago, and in vital volunteerism role. 

    Conlon, a licensed New York geologist with Haley & Aldrich, a current annual sponsor of the Brownfield Partnership with more than 700 environmental and engineering consultants, began her relationship with the Partnership by volunteering in 2015 to be part of the Big Apple Brownfield Awards (BABA) nomination committee, where she collaborated under the leadership of current Partnership treasurer, Michele Rogers (Blue World Construction), to help select the gold standard of NYC brownfield redevelopments. That involvement was just the tip of the iceberg as the relationship’s trajectory has been upward and onward ever since. Conlon has since co-chaired the most recent four BABAs and was elected a Partnership board member in the fall of 2020. 

    The BABA experience afforded Conlon a front row seat to sorting through excellence that underpins NYC brownfield redevelopment. The relationship with the Partnership has now evolved to where Conlon envisions big things for the organization as she eases into her board seat.

    “I am very thankful to be involved with the Partnership—everyone on the board is unique. It is a strong and special group. I am looking to help out in any way I can,” she says.

    Let us count the ways…

    Conlon, who received her master’s from Boston College in geology and  previously worked as an environmental geologist with other organizations prior to H&A, is getting ready to tackle two major initiatives: Bolstering the Partnership’s social media presence and recruiting a new breed of members for the future—all in an effort to make the organization more diversified. 

    Conlon is  helping the Partnership recruit a broad-based cross-section of NYC’s finest industry participants. On diversifying membership, Conlon says “we are eager to bring in new categories of members. We know that we have a strong presence of consultants, attorneys, developers, and more. Now we want to bring in more not-for-profits, architects and others. And, to recruit this new members means leveraging our social media platforms to find them.”

    Started With BABA

    Conlon, who was born on Long Island and grew up in Connecticut and currently resides in northern N.J., says one takeaway from the BABA selection experience was having to “review all the applications and then try to boil down the details to select winners—and there were a lot of worthy candidates so it wasn’t easy,” she says.

    Conlon says that working with Michele Rogers has produced a nice synergy, as “Michele has great people skills and can build a consensus [from the nominating committee.]” Conlon says she has her eye on candidate-projects that focus on championing green, open space, particularly where it was lacking in a specific community.”

    Advocating for more affordable housing conversions is at the top of Conlon’s wish list as well, plus the conversion of brownfields into so-called “healthfields,” defined as establishing a greater number of health care centers in communities that need it most.

    In taking a lead role in beefing up the Partnership’s social media platforms, Conlon plans to places an emphasis on LinkedIn and Twitter, as they offer the best bang for the buck. Cultivating a more robust LinkedIn presence allows for more precise recruitment of environmental and engineering professionals, including younger talent. “ LinkedIn enables us to post about our events, such as the BABAs. LinkedIn is a solid social media platform that allows us to fan out, appeal and reach many people, and then spread the news about what is occurring in the NYC brownfield industry,” says Conlon.

    This outreach would include scouting for and reaching students who might have a vested interest in the industry—plus “we also want to reach out to local officials by activating Twitter, to enlighten them about our industry and the developments at the local levels.”

    She calls the social media initiative “a group effort, and will get ideas for posts from my fellow board members.”

    Professional Goals Aplenty

    With Conlon’s day job at Haley & Aldrich, one of her more fervent quests is staying current on changes to environmental standards and guidance.   She spoke of the PFAS guidance that “affects all our project teams: for me it’s helpful to get updates in real time, and on a consultant end about how those changes are implemented, the interactions with regulators—all while having a back and forth about staying on top of the industry.” 

    Of course, this industry has been significantly affected by Covid, starting with construction shutdowns occurring last year, which impacted “some of our projects, hindered them moving forward and they stalled out for a couple of months, while waiting for the ban to lift,” says Conlon, who has been a Project Manager at H&A since Nov 2018. It is in this role that she provides consulting services in environmental investigation, site remediation and engineering control design as well as expertise in navigating clients through city, state and federal regulatory programs.

    “Currently, I think a lot of projects have rebounded to move full steam ahead, as we see an uptick. We’re hoping to avoid government restrictions that could potentially be imposed.  In addition, to foster communications and operational efficiency at H&A throughout the pandemic, we made efforts to stay connected with our staff, and recently we’ve been slowly returning to the office

    Professionally, Conlon helps clients identify the best remedies for sites with environmental impacts. “I have extensive experience providing due diligence Ph I and Ph II assessments and guiding developers through city and state environmental regulatory programs.”

    Running concurrent to this capability, Conlon, on the not-for-profit level, is eager to help the Partnership identify its own “best remedies” as it moves the needle forward on fostering NYC brownfield excellence. 

    The Partnership is thrilled to have her on the board.

  • 22 Jul 2021 2:36 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    David J. Freeman: A "Bridge Builder" Whose Vision Came to Fruition 

    By Steve Dwyer 

    About 15 years ago, we saw the birth of a concept whose time had come: The launch of a New York City-based non-profit organization to advocate for best practices and to serve as a clearinghouse of information regarding brownfield development in New York City.  

    The germ of the vision started with a basic yet essential task of fostering information sharing around brownfields redevelopment occurring in the City. The vision evolved to become many things to many practitioners—including serving as a mechanism to enhance dialogue between public and private entities…and erase the systemic barriers that often undermine results. 

    Any vision starts with visionaries, and two of them were Dr. Daniel Walsh and David J. Freeman, the latter recently named the 2021 recipient of New York City Brownfield Partnership’s Distinguished Service Award. (Dr. Walsh was the recipient in a prior year).

    The Award promotes excellence in brownfield redevelopment each year by honoring an individual who has made a significant impact on this industry in New York City and beyond.

    Freeman, a Director in the Environmental Group of Gibbons P.C., is a founding NYCBP Board member and has been responsible for much of the organization’s structure and success.

    Serving as NYCBP Board President during a critical period of the organization’s existence, Freeman helped pave the way for the Partnership’s current success, as he lent his voice to multiple committees and chaired the Legislative/Policy Committee, which has maintained a close and interactive watch over the New York State Brownfield Cleanup Program. 

    Freeman has more than 35 years of experience representing buyers, sellers, and developers of contaminated properties, as well as both plaintiffs and defendants in Superfund and other litigation regarding the cleanup of hazardous waste sites. He is a frequent author and speaker on environmental law topics and is the recipient of a 2012 Burton Award as “an outstanding law firm author.”

    He was involved with the formation of the New York State Bar Association Environmental & Energy Law Section’s Future of Federal Environmental Policy Task Force—and his extensive professional and pro bono activities include service far and wide. In fact, from a pro bono service standpoint, Freeman put his stamp on it within the Partnership’s portfolio by establishing the Partnership’s Pro Bono Referral and Pro Bone Counseling services. 

    These days, he continues to serve the NYCBP as an Emeritus Board Member and participant in the Redevelopment Roundtables, and remains active in advising on regulatory policy.

    “Those of us who work with David at Gibbons are delighted he is being recognized for his career-long achievements in the areas of environmental law and brownfield redevelopment in New York City,” said Camille V. Otero, Chair of the firm’s Environmental Group. “His invaluable contributions to our New York based environmental practice and clients further demonstrate his commitment to excellence.”

    In a recent phone conversation, Freeman recalled the inception of the Partnership, and how the organization took shape in a challenging environment. “[Dr.] Dan Walsh recognized who was active on the city and state levels. I think there was a shared sense that the City needed to better capitalize on the [New York state brownfield program, established in 2003] and adapt it to fit City needs. There was a great deal of need for change: Promoting excellence in brownfield redevelopment by honoring successful brownfield projects, supporting education and training of industry professionals, workers and students, and also fostering collaborative relationships among developers, property owners, government agencies and community groups.” 

    Read on for a recent conversation with David Freeman on various aspects of the Partnership and its evolutionary upward trajectory over the past 15 years. 

    Q: Talk about the inception of the Partnership and how it came to be—the start of a major movement? 

    A: I want to be modest about my role. I was there from the start, but much credit must go to Dan Walsh, who had a very keen vision—identifying the organization to be a ‘bridge’ that links the Mayor’s Office of Environmental Remediation (OER) to the private sector. There was a great need for change regarding brownfield redevelopment. While I don’t want to diminish my role, it’s essential to credit to Dan in establishing this link between the private side and the OER.  The common thread that defines the Partnership’s charter purpose is establishing common ground [among stakeholders] for the remediation of contaminated properties, and return them to productive use. 

    Q: What were some other—let’s call them—ancillary value-added components of the Partnership’s service portfolio?  

    A: We were bent on offering pro bono services, and this vision dovetailed to include the formulation of the internship program, scholarships and much more. Pro bono work, internships and scholarships demonstrated that the Partnership could serve as an ‘ambassador’ within the context of brownfields. We strived to be more community-minded and continue to cultivate effective, results-driven working relationships between the private and public sectors—both have interests that are aligned but certainly not identical. 

    Q: It seems like the Partnership had—and has—a great deal of bandwidth in what it can provide to brownfield stakeholders: has it been top of mind to stay keep focused on keeping the organization’s identity and purpose consistent? 

    A: The important thing to remember is that [brownfield] deals are being executed independently of the Partnership—the organization never ‘does deals,’ but is instrumental in providing tools and information. We spread knowledge and branched out—we became active with the New York State Bar Association and began to discuss the kinds of amendments to the law that could facilitate the development aspects, integrating the Governor’s office, State DEC and City into the mix. Dan Walsh was very anxious to get OER up and running, to make it an independent entity. Eventually the Voluntary Cleanup Program (VCP) was established with a memorandum of understanding between OER and DEC that the OER would function independently. This memorandum was critical to getting work done. 

    Q: What were some niche brownfield development areas in which the Partnership stepped in to facilitate, to champion? 

    A: Advocating for the renewal of disadvantaged communities is one. These communities lack leverage to effect change and achieve results on their own. It’s vital we educate and offer outreach so communities can get involved and be empowered. We started to play an important role in helping educate constituencies about the BCP functionality and how it benefits them—and this does not happen automatically. I also want to shine a light on the role of the BABA awards: the Big Apple Brownfield Awards.  It has  been an essential vehicle serving as a ‘recognition platform’ for outstanding brownfield redevelopment programs. 

    Q: Can you talk about the evolution of the Brownfield Opportunity Area (BOA) initiative and how it matured over time to become more impactful? 

    A: Pertaining to neighborhood revitalization and outreach to communities, roundtables helped fuel the BOA. You have to remember that the BOA once existed on paper only; thus we had to be aggressive to push the State legislature to more concretely reward [communities]. The BOA was a part of a compromise when the Brownfield Cleanup Act was ratified. Over time, BOA moved from being a less active component to one that’s become far more important to the BCP’s mandate. 

    And one trend we’ve seen is a sharp focus on disadvantaged communities over the past couple years. One specific niche example has been advocating for communities of color who have been negatively affected by pollution in their backyards. This sparked a movement that was not just environmental, but encompassed economic and social justice elements, to effect change. It changed how real estate is developed in the City.  

    Q: What is one major task on the Partnership’s front burner in 2021?

    A: We have a big hurdle in 2022 as the State brownfield tax credit provisions need to be extended by the State legislature by end of 2022. However, while it might seem like there’s time, there is much work to be done well in advance of that date [to ensure its renewal]. The intention is to not put money back into developer’s pockets, but to make the tax credit provision an agent of change for disadvantaged communities, to reap economic, environmental and social benefits. There’s a compelling need to target where tax credit distribution need is greatest. The clock is ticking. 

    Q: What’s ahead to continue to make inroads and effect change with the Partnership?  

    A: We must continue as an information resource. There are a host of complicated topics and multiple jurisdictions [OER, DEC, Dept. of Buildings, etc.] to engage with on many issues. We are eager to bring developers to the table—new ones who have interest in sustainable development. That’s very high on the list. I see it as vital to bring people together on issues where they don’t—or won’t—magically come together [to discuss]. There are contentious issues to smooth over and establish a dialogue. 

    People listen to the Partnership because we are the ones in the trenches…and have established credibility as an organization that objectively represents multiple constituencies in the brownfield community.

  • 14 Jul 2021 1:32 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    After facing rejection three times, CCNY Earth and Atmospheric Sciences professor secures coveted job training grant

    By Steve Dwyer 

    Dogged determination paid off handsomely this spring for Angelo Lampousis and his team at The City College of New York (CCNY). 

    The Ph.D., Earth and Atmospheric Sciences lecturer at CCNY and fried of the New York City Brownfield Partnership (NYCBP), was thrilled to learn that his department had been one of three New York City entities (among 18 applying organizations) to receive a coveted grant for environmental job training—handed out by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. CCNY’s will be able to train up to 60 participants from the South Bronx starting this fall. 

    Job training and workforce development are an important part of the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to advance economic opportunities and address environmental justice issues in underserved communities.

    In addition to grants awarded to CCNY, grants were allotted to St. Nick’s Alliance of Brooklyn, another friend and  member of the NYCBP,  and The HOPE Program Inc. of Brooklyn and the Bronx. All three awardees received an Environmental Workforce Development and Job Training grant (EWDJT) of or close to $200,000 for programs to create a skilled workforce in communities where brownfields assessment and cleanup activities are taking place.

    “We applied for this grant three times, and the fourth time we secured the funding,” says Lampousis, before departing for Athens, Greece for a working vacation. “This [being denied grant] is typical as far as I know—you might fail but it provides time to improve your narrative and state your case. Mainly, you have to have resilience to keep trying. And we did improve our grant writing skills, honed them to make it more compelling—and we took advantage of review programs with folks in New York and other states who assist those who are seeking grants after failing.”

    The grant money has a two-prong purpose: It assists non-CCNY-students who need to complete continuing education (CE) in order to find work within the engineering and environmental fields—and have chosen CCNY to complete the CE course work that might consist of a couple days of either training or re-training. Grant money benefits CCNY engineering and environmental students who are dedicated to establishing a career in brownfield remediation. 

    The NYCBP can play a role in the job training grant, because after the first two years of student class work, students must then progress to real-world job placement. That’s where the NYCBP and its public- and private-sector members enter the picture, says Lampousis. “The NYCBP   will try to facilitate student job placement through member companies. I see their contribution and role as significant during this third-year cycle,” says Lampousis.  Several member companies have successfully hired job training graduates over the years.  

    Transformative Impact 

    EPA’s brownfields job training grant program enables organizations to transform the lives of New Yorkers by providing individuals the opportunity “to gain meaningful long-term employment and a livable wage in an environmental field,” said Walter Mugdan, acting EPA Regional Administrator. “These three grantees do critical work to bring good paying jobs to communities across New York City that also help make them safer and healthier places to live and work.”

    Rather than filling local jobs with contractors from distant cities, the organizations offer residents of communities historically affected by pollution, economic disinvestment and contaminated brownfields properties an opportunity to gain the skills and certifications needed to secure local environmental work in their communities.

    “South Bronx residents will be able to get the CE credits now and then start working. The local income will go up. Plus, people don’t have to pay for the CE courses, which is typically not free [elsewhere]. It can cost $800 if they do it on their own. We can offer far more CE courses—and do it for those who only need perhaps one or two days of training to move forward with their environmental or engineering job pursuit,” he says. 

    The EPA job training grant will also help Lampousis in his effort to deliver and enhance his geosciences and engineering course, which consists of 14-week semesters—all done to prepare students to enter the workforce in these two fields, preferably as brownfield practitioners.

    After having to offer the courses, “Phase I and Phase II Environmental Site Assessments,” in a remote environment due to COVID-19, Lampousis is eager to return to a live classroom setting at CCNY this fall. 

    Debuting in 2011, the courses were provided a bump in 2020 with a host of professional guest lecturers—many of them NYCBP Board  members and staff. They were eager to volunteer their time and provide students with a snapshot and real-world advice about what it takes to be a brownfield professional. The course is typically held on Saturdays (10 am to 12 30 pm). 

    The course encompasses the entire process of environmental due diligence related to commercial real estate transactions and site characterization that ultimately leads to remedial evaluation and mitigation required for redevelopment of former industrial properties impacted with typical brownfield contaminants. 

    EPA Job Training Grant Program Mark 23 Years 

    Since 1998, EPA’s Environmental Workforce Development and Job Training (EWDJT) grant program has awarded more than 335 grants. With these grants, 18,541 individuals have been trained and 13,751 have been placed in careers related to land remediation and environmental health and safety, with an average hourly wage of over $14.

    CCNY’s three-year $200,000 grant is designed to create a skilled workforce in communities where brownfields assessment and cleanup activities are taking place.

    Training will cover the first two years, with job placement the primary focus of the third year—and BCONE’s will have a role in furthering that cause. Graduates will earn certification in various environmental fields, including:

    •    Hazardous waste operations and emergency response; 

    •    Environmental sampling and analysis; and 

    •    Other environmental health and safety training.

    Although it targets South Bronx residents, interested individuals from the five boroughs are welcome to apply for the program. Participants should be able to commit to attend the entire training. There is no age limit.

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