Sunset Park brownfield sites have made the cut, thanks to the efforts of elected officials and local organizations.
Governor Andrew Cuomo announced on Wednesday, December 2 the designation of 11 new Brownfield Opportunity Areas (BOA) in communities across New York State, with Sunset Park listed as one of the selections.
The announcement will help Sunset’s waterfront develop a revitalization strategy focused on returning dormant portions into productive areas of economic growth.
“Despite being ignored for years, these sites each have tremendous potential for developing local economies and this new status gives these areas greater access to state resources needed to get projects underway as soon as possible,” Cuomo said.
Assemblymember Felix Ortiz, who represents the area, sought funding to clean up brownfields earlier in the year, developing support for his legislation to designate $5 million from the $100 million Superfund Reauthorization Act in this year’s budget to be appropriated exclusively for use at BOAs.
“This will help our community develop revitalization strategies to return dormant and blighted areas into productive land for economic growth and development,” he said. “Projects in Sunset Park will be given priority status for grants and additional Brownfield Cleanup Program tax credit incentives.”
For the Sunset area, the focus of the announcement is on a 694-acre area along the waterfront. A total of $308,076 in state funds will enable the redevelopment of strategic sites there in hopes that the plan will generate more local employment, improved public access to the Sunset Park waterfront, and improved local housing.
Elizabeth Yeampierre, the executive director of UPROSE, a nonprofit environmental advocacy group which has played an integral role in researching possible opportunities for the area’s brownfield, is pleased with the news.
“Our neighborhood contains one of New York City’s last remaining working waterfronts, which has traditionally served as an economic hub for a local community of color,” she said. “It is imperative that these industrial areas be preserved and revitalized with environmental and social justice in mind.”
“We are delighted that the New York State Department of State has designated the Sunset Park BOA,” added Director of the New York City Office of Environmental Remediation Daniel Walsh, who congratulated UPROSE for ‘its skill and dedication in achieving this important designation.’
A study report prepared by UPROSE, identified increased local and green job opportunities, decreased environmental hazards, development of environmental friendly business practices, and the creation of new open space for outdoor recreation for Sunset that will reconnect the community to its waterfront as goals of the redevelopment.
“Our waterfront has great potential but has been too long ignored. This announcement is a major boost for our local economy and quality of life,” added Ortiz.