News

Blighted and idle lots targeted for open space and community

MINNEAPOLIS – Neighborhood groups and community-based nonprofit organizations have the opportunity to begin redevelopment of unproductive, depreciated and possibly contaminated properties under a program spearheaded by the nonprofit Minnesota Environmental Initiative. MINNEAPOLIS – Neighborhood groups and community-based nonprofit organizations have the opportunity to begin redevelopment of unproductive, depreciated and possibly contaminated properties under a program spearheaded by the nonprofit Minnesota Environmental Initiative. MEI staff are meeting with neighborhood groups to explain the program, dubbed ‘Common Spaces,’ and discuss properties that could benefit from the available assistance. Under Common Spaces, MEI provides technical and financial resources to assess environmental conditions at properties that are known to be or are potentially contaminated. The program’s financial resources can cover hard costs, such as soil and water sampling and analysis, while MEI staff offer hands-on guidance through the process. Once the assessment is complete, MEI and its partners can facilitate cleanup, if necessary. The overall goal is to recover blighted, idle properties for reuses, such as green space, that benefit the surrounding community.

Common Spaces is supported by Hennepin County’s Environmental Response Fund and the McKnight Foundation.

The first step in the program is meetings with neighborhood organizations and other stakeholder groups to identify properties that were used in the past for commercial or industrial purposes and could potentially be acquired and redeveloped for green space reuse. Redevelopment for other community uses will also be discussed and considered. As specific properties are identified, MEI’s Resources for Redevelopment (R4R) staff will work with neighborhood representatives, property owners, environmental consulting engineers, regulatory-agency staff and potential funders to design an end-use, assess the condition of the property, get it cleaned up (if necessary) and acquire further resources to complete the project.

The Common Spaces project is an effort of MEI’s R4R program. By pulling together public and private resources to efficiently undertake environmental property investigations, the R4R program helps neighborhood and community-based nonprofits take the first steps toward recycling environmentally compromised land. R4R targets brownfields (properties, the redevelopment of which is hampered by known or suspected contamination) that are not be appropriate locations for commercial or industrial sites.

The Minnesota Environmental Initiative is an 12-year-old nonprofit organization based in Minneapolis. MEI creates and sustains innovative partnership to improve our environment.

For further information on the R4R program and its Common Spaces project, please call either Michael Welch, 612-334-3388, ext. 107, or Megan Dobratz, ext. 104.

March 10, 2003
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