Community engagement plays a vital role in helping public sector partners more effectively leverage scarce resources. In the case of funding provided through an EPA Brownfields Assessment Grant, engagement by community members and professionals serving in neighborhoods where eligible brownfield project sites are located is vital. Thoughtful, actionable community engagement can help to shape site selection and foster trust, by providing community members with a better understanding of the purpose, goals, and limits of authority related to grant implementation.
The purpose of the Brownfields Assessment Grant is to return brownfield properties to productive uses, to promote healthier neighborhoods, and to serve as a catalyst for equitable development opportunities.
Durham Brownfields Community Task Force
The primary responsibility of the Durham Brownfields Community Task Force is performing general public outreach regarding the City’s Brownfields Assessment Program. Beyond assisting with public outreach, another important role of the task force is to advise the City’s Program Manager and environmental consultants on strategies to best identify, prioritize, and select project sites for assessment.
As an advisory body, the Task Force serves a vital role in helping the City understand the context of specific sites within the community and in helping the community understand program goals, and instill confidence regarding the purpose and limitations of the program. With the perspectives and recommendations of Task Force members in mind, final decisions regarding projects to support via the program will be made by the City in consultation with the EPA.
Task Force Participation
Durham Brownfields Community Task Force members represent a variety of community voices, with each offering a unique connection to and perspective on eligible project sites and grant implementation. Task force participants often included:
- Community groups and concerned individuals
- Property owners seeking consideration by the program
- Institutional partners working in education, public health, environmental management, social justice, historic preservation, banking, land use and real estate
- City and County staff working in real estate, construction, economic development, community development, and sustainability
The Durham Community Brownfields Task Force will endeavor to meet at least quarterly during the grant period, beginning in early 2019. Meetings will be advertised on the program website. The community is invited to attend.