Many communities across new jersey are home to former commercial and industrial properties that are either contaminated or perceived to be contaminated. Assessing, remediating and redeveloping these sites, called brownfields, can prove to be challenging for communities that lack the resources necessary to navigate the complex process.
But the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) hopes to change that with a new center funded with a grant from the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA). NJIT recently launched the NJ Brownfields Assistance Center @ NJIT, the first-of-its-kind center that solely focuses on and serves New Jersey’s counties and municipalities offering free resources and guidance.
"Returning contaminated sites to productive use is an essential component of Governor Murphy’s commitment to building stronger, more vibrant communities across New Jersey," NJEDA Chief Executive Officer Tim Sullivan said. "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."
NJIT partnered with several county planning departments to host Brownfield Blueprint Learning Labs this year to educate local officials on the process of transforming brownfields into new community assets. This educational forum is one example of the NJ Brownfields Assistance Center @ NJIT’s free resource.
“The NJ Brownfields Assistance Center @ NJIT serves as an excellent resource for our State’s counties and municipalities,” said Walter Lane, Somerset County’s Director of Planning. “After participating in the Brownfields Learning Lab for Somerset County, several of our municipalities contacted the Center @ NJIT and have benefitted from the technical assistance they received.”
Lane said the county looks forward to working with the center and municipal officials to advance the reuse of brownfields in the county.
Monmouth County said NJIT was able to quickly shift a planned in-person event to virtual due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The online event was open to county and municipal officials.
“Monmouth County appreciates the assistance we received from NJIT’s experts in Brownfield reclamation and redevelopment,” said Joe Barris, the Director of Monmouth County’s Department of Planning and Economic Development.
NJ Brownfields Assistance Center @ NJIT has a team of planners, engineers, environmental scientists, and social scientists. It offers free assistance to counties and municipalities throughout the state. The team works with brownfields-challenged communities offering tools, strategies, resources, partnerships, subject matter experts, and education to help transform these sites into community assets.
As the center expands, it plans to engage with brownfield industry stakeholders, including consultants, contractors, and developers by creating tools and resources for the private sector, as well as providing NJIT students with opportunities to work with private sector stakeholders.
For more information about the NJ Brownfields Assistance Center @ NJIT, contact Colette Santasieri, PhD, Executive Director, at [email protected], or visit www.njit.edu/njbrownfields.
For NJ county and local government entities seeking free brownfields guidance, contact [email protected]. ♦