Brownfield Grant-Writing Workshop
A Successful Day of Training and Partnership
Representative Robert Menendez
United States Congress
New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Bradley Campbell, New Jersey U.S. Congress Representative Robert Menendez and Glen Gilmore, Mayor of Hamilton Township, President of the New Jersey Chapter of NBA, and Chairman of the NJLM Economic Development Task Force pose during “Writing Award Winning Brownfields Grant Applications Workshop” on October 17, 2005.
As your Representative in Congress, I am constantly seeking new and innovative ways to increase funding streams for New Jersey. That is why I was pleased to host the “Writing Award Winning Brownfields Grant Applications Workshop” on October 17, 2005, in conjunction with the US Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA), the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP), the National Brownfields Association (NBA), the New Jersey State League of Municipalities (NJLM), and the National Center for Neighborhood and Brownfields Redevelopment at the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. More than 60 representatives from governmental, not-for-profit, academic, and economic development agencies across New Jersey who are interested in USEPA's Brownfield Grant Funds came together at Rutgers University's Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy in New Brunswick, NJ to learn and share the tips needed to write award-winning grant applications.
New Jersey's industrial legacy, combined with our population density and strong commitment to preserving open space, make brownfield assessment, cleanup, and redevelopment a necessity. It was an honor to hear from Dean James Hughes of the Bloustein School, NJDEP Commissioner Brad Campbell, and The Honorable Glen Gilmore, Mayor of Hamilton Township, President of the New Jersey Chapter of NBA, and Chairman of the NJLM Economic Development Task Force. All speakers joined with me in emphasizing the importance of bringing together the experts who can assist interested applicants in winning federal funds to help their communities meet their planning and development needs.
Larry D'Andrea, Chief, Brownfields Section, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region 2, which administers these grant programs, joined our discussion to provide “nuts and bolts” information on the grant application process. The EPA Website, www.epa.gov/brownfields, can provide you with up-to-date announcements on the programs, including a copy of the guidelines that were released on October 21, 2005. Please note that completed applications are due on December 14, 2005.
Mr. D’Andrea emphasized that as you write your grant proposal, you should bear in mind that completed applications are reviewed by a national panel. This panel is likely to be composed of individuals who may not be aware of the circumstances surrounding your community’s vision for the development. As such, it is important to engage the panel by fully describing your community’s needs, discussing health issues, the ability to leverage funds from other sources, and providing demographics, pertinent statistics, and written testimonials from local residents. Before applying, applicants should develop a realistic budget as well as a specific plan on accessing the site if your agency does not already own it.
The NJDEP continues to be a strong advocate for turning brownfields into clean fields in New Jersey. Ken Kloo, Administrator of the NJDEP Office of Brownfield Reuse, committed his staff to assist anyone who needs guidance. Mr. Kloo stressed the idea of leveraging all available funding sources, noting that recent legal changes to the Hazardous Discharge Site Cleanup Fund as related to open space, affordable housing and brownfield development areas may make the state grants more attractive to municipalities and may be easier to obtain than the nationally competitive EPA grants. For more information on this program, please visit http://www.nj.gov/dep/srp/brownfields/
Presentations by successful applicants Leah Yasenchak of Brownfield Redevelopment Solutions, Inc. and Elizabeth Spinelli, Executive Director of the Hudson County Economic Development Corp. (HCEDC), stressed the importance of providing your grant writer with sufficient time and information, and instilling in them the passion you have about the project in the proposal. Prior to her work at BRS, Inc., Ms. Yasenchak reviewed applications at USEPA and has a 100 percent success rate in writing grants for municipalities, including the City of Trenton. Under the guidance of Ms. Spinelli, the HCEDC was the first recipient of NJDEP’s Environmental Excellence Award for Open and Effective Government, in recognition of the excellent communication established between the municipalities and the various government agencies that are involved with HCEDC’s brownfield remediation projects. Ms. Spinelli encouraged grant writers to develop relationships with community partners, including elected officials, local residents, and community groups. Everyone benefits when we turn failed legacies of the past into clean resources for the future, be it as open space or new development.
Recent legal changes to the Hazardouse Discharge Site Cleanup Fund
as related to open space, affordable housing and brownfield development areas may make the state
grants more attractive and easier to obtain than the nationally competitive EPA grants.
I encourage you to continue to reach out to the contacts you made on October 17, to partner with the organizations that offered you their sincere support, and to utilize the services and support of your local federal and state agencies. Let's all work together to improve New Jersey's share of this vital federal funding that will have such an positive impact on the future of our communities.