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Resources for the Future

By To Revitalization, Juha Siikamäki and Kris Wernstedt


Abstract This study employs interviews, document review, and a national survey of local government officials to investigate the factors that influence the success of efforts to convert underutilized contaminated properties into greenspace. We find that the presence of contamination continues to be a concern despite federal and state efforts to ease liability fears but also that site and project features can overcome this hurdle. In particular, jurisdictions appear more likely to convert distressed properties into greenspace if recreational parks, rather than open space, are planned, sites are already owned rather than available only through tax foreclosure, and the state is perceived as being supportive of the conversion. In addition, mixed public-private funding and site locations in residential areas are more likely to attract community support for conversion projects. The redevelopment of brownfields — properties that contain abandoned or underused facilities in which expansion or redevelopment is complicated by real or perceived contamination — presents both a problem and an opportunity to the active-living community. Left unattended, brownfields have accumulated and dragged down the quality of life in numerous American neighborhoods, burdening local residents with shuttered businesses, empty lots, and polluted soil and groundwater. At the same time, many of these neighborhoods suffer from a shortage of greenspace We gratefully acknowledge funding for this study from Active Living Research, a national program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. We also would like to extend special thanks to Marla Hollander for her active-living expertise, to Francie Streich for outstanding research assistance during survey design and administration, and to interviewees in Minnesota and Wisconsin for their input in shaping this research

Year: 2013
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