News Release Date: May 23, 2022
WASHINGTON—The National Park Service, Environmental Protection Agency, and Groundwork USA announced today the first recipients of a new grant initiative to help communities transform brownfield areas into community assets for a more just and resilient future. Today’s announcement advances the Department of the Interior’s commitment to engage diverse stakeholders across the country in addressing issues of equity and environmental justice.
Dotted across the country are more than 450,000 brownfield properties—land suspected of being contaminated by hazardous substances or industrial pollutants. Disproportionately, these properties are in low-income urban neighborhoods that often have more pavement and polluted lots than healthy outdoor spaces for recreation. For more than two decades, Groundwork Trusts—locally-based organizations working in partnership with the NPS, EPA, and Groundwork USA—have worked hand-in-hand with residents to transform these underutilized spaces into community assets like parks, trails, green space, and community gardens.
"The National Park Service is proud to lead this effort with EPA and Groundwork USA to advance community-led conservation and outdoor recreation in under-resourced urban neighborhoods," National Park Service Director Chuck Sams said. “Strengthening these important partnerships in local communities is a key component of our work to address long-standing environmental injustices.”
“EPA continues to be a proud partner with the National Park Service in support of Groundwork USA,” said Dr. Carlton Waterhouse, EPA Deputy Assistant Administrator for the Office of Land and Emergency Management. “We are excited to see how these Land Use Innovation Grants will help the selected Groundwork Trusts educate and engage the communities around brownfield issues, including ways that sites can be safely reused for much-needed recreation and green space.”
The new Groundwork Land Use Innovation Grants—developed by the NPS’s Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance Program, funded by EPA’s Office of Brownfields and Land Revitalization, and administered by Groundwork USA—provide an opportunity to invest significantly in the role of community members in the transformation of these spaces.
In this inaugural round of funding, five Groundwork trusts were selected to receive a total of $194,839 in funding to support efforts to engage residents in envisioning a better use for brownfield properties as community assets. These initial projects aim to use innovative and equitable community engagement methods—from community and youth led research into urban heat and flooding to the creation of neighborhood advisory groups that guide policy development—to ensure community voice is centered in ambitious brownfield reuse projects that connect residents to new parks, trails, and greenspace.
The inaugural Land Use Innovation Fund Grant recipients are:
Sliver by the River Community Outreach - Groundwork Bridgeport (Bridgeport, Conn.): $20,075 to collect community input on a waterfront activation plan for a large, coastal, publicly owned brownfield site, Sliver by the River. This will provide a critical opportunity for residents to inform the ongoing waterfront revitalization efforts.
The Ludlow Park Waterfront Brownfield Community Plan - Groundwork Hudson Valley (Yonkers, N.Y.): $50,000 to engage the local community in the design of the future Ludlow Park, a new public park along the Hudson River in Southwest Yonkers. GWHV will examine an array of issues for the formal design process, such as public access, climate resilience, ecological opportunities, and interpretive programs and amenities to guide the site design and ensure the future park meets both the accessibility and resilience needs of the surrounding neighborhoods.
Reimagining the Lawrence and Bennington Street Triangle - Groundwork Lawrence (Lawrence, Mass.): $25,731 to form and facilitate a neighborhood advisory group to create a vision for transforming the former Cyr Oil property, currently used as a parking lot, into an accessible greenspace that extends active transportation opportunities in the neighborhood while addressing climate concerns.
The Foundation for an Ecodistrict: Cincinnati’s Industrial Mill Creek as a Green Corridor - Groundwork Ohio River Valley (Cincinnati, Ohio): $49,982 to create a new Climate Safe Neighborhood’s Climate Advisory Group to develop a resiliency strategy and plan for improving five brownfield sites. GWORV will connect youth employment, city policy, and the priorities of frontline communities to guide site improvement and climate planning in the city.
West End Compost Hub - Groundwork Rhode Island (Pawtucket, R.I.): $49,051 to develop educational programming for the West End Composting Hub which will transform two adjacent brownfields into a community composting facility and education center where community members can learn about brownfields remediation, composting, urban agriculture, and community resilience strategies.
Collectively, these projects spark innovation, build community leadership, and lead to long-term investment in equitable and just land revitalization in Groundwork communities.
"We're excited to continue partnering with the National Park Service and Environmental Protection Agency to expand opportunities for Groundwork Trusts to pilot innovative strategies to engage community members in the transformation of brownfields into community assets like parks, trails, and greenspace," said Groundwork USA Board President, Heather McMann. "Land reuse projects can only reach their full potential when the surrounding community is included in the creation of a new vision for the space and these grants will enable Trusts to test new ways of co-creating that vision."
Learn more about Groundwork: Groundwork: Charting a More Just and Equitable Future (U.S. National Park Service) (nps.gov).
About the National Park Service. More than 20,000 National Park Service employees care for America's 423 national parks and work with communities across the nation to help preserve local history and create close-to-home recreational opportunities. Learn more at www.nps.gov, and on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube.
Last updated: May 23, 2022