Tim Sullivan, CEO of the Economic Development Authority
By Joshua Burd
The state Economic Development Authority is teaming with the New Jersey Institute of Technology to establish a new initiative aimed at helping local governments clean up and reposition brownfield sites within their borders.
The EDA on Thursday said its board of directors has approved a memorandum of understanding with NJIT to establish the NJ Brownfields Center at the university. The center, which will be launched using $200,000 in EDA funds, will provide a variety of technical assistance and resources to assist New Jersey communities with the process of transforming their brownfield sites into community assets.
“Returning contaminated sites to productive use is an essential component of Governor Murphy’s commitment to building stronger, more vibrant communities across New Jersey,” said Tim Sullivan, the authority’s CEO. “NJIT has an impressive history of helping communities successfully take on transformative redevelopment projects. We are excited to work with them and our partners at the municipal level to make New Jersey a safer, healthier place to live and work.”
The move comes as part of a larger effort by the Phil Murphy administration to facilitate brownfields redevelopment. The governor has proposed other solutions, including a remediation and redevelopment tax credit and an enhanced brownfields loan program through the EDA.
The authority also pointed to last year’s agreement with the state Department of Environmental Protection, which calls for the agencies to expand what’s known as the Community Collaborative Initiative. According to a news release, the program embeds DEP staff in 12 targeted communities to help them navigate complex environmental stressors and set a pathway for successful remediation and redevelopment.
The Brownfields Center at NJIT will expand upon those efforts to offer similar assistance to communities beyond the 12 CCI municipalities, as well as providing additional tools to all brownfield communities in New Jersey, the news release said. The center will also provide guidance and resources to county and local government entities to help them overcome challenges and navigate the brownfield redevelopment process, as well as educate and engage communities around brownfield issues.
Under the terms of the agreement approved Thursday by the EDA’s board, the authority will provide $200,000 to launch the Brownfields Center, while NJIT will provide quarterly updates on the use of funds and progress in communities receiving assistance.
The university will look to build on an existing Brownfields Program that it runs in conjunction with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the news release said. The program has helped hundreds of communities advance brownfield sites toward redevelopment by providing technical assistance to communities across the Northeast.
“We are thrilled to partner with the NJEDA to provide critical guidance and resources communities need to transform their brownfields sites into community assets,” said Dr. Atam P. Dhawan, senior vice provost for research at NJIT. “Brownfield remediation can be an intimidating process, and it is important that we do all we can to support communities that are stepping up to the challenge. Our programs have a proven track record of success, and the additional resources the NJEDA is providing will help us drive positive change in even more communities that need it.”