Communities While Revitalizing Brownfields"
By Gretna Mayor Ronnie C. Harris
(LA) Mayor Ronnie C. Harris participated in a panel discussion that
focused on the benefits of future land use redevelopment on long-term
residents and businesses as opposed to the promotion of gentrification.
panel members included Tom Warshauer, Business Services Supervisor, City
of Charlotte; Tom Benjamin, President, Environmental Alliance for Senior
Involvement; Gary Kaplan, Executive Director, Boston Jobs for Youth; and
Gerri Washington, Coordinator, Environmental Justice Action Group.
Harris stressed the importance of involving the public in brownfield
redevelopment efforts and described how, while applying for funding, the
city of Gretna involved the community every step of the way.
"Neighborhood meetings were held in all parts of the city, not just
in the communities adjacent to the site", explained Mayor Harris.
part of the process, civic association meetings were held which culminated
in District meetings. As a result, the Brownfields Partnership Consortium,
consisting of neighborhood, government and economic development
representatives, was established. Participants included a broad range of
community representatives, including real estate, insurance, EPA, title
companies, neighbors and lawyers.
options were presented to the consortium for discussion and the community
representatives identified the sites of concern. This was an important
part of the process because "brownfield sites can be real or
perceived", explained Mayor Harris. Further investigation revealed
that of 42 sites, only nine were of real concern. The remaining sites
involved non-brownfield issues such as abandoned buildings, tall grass,
process for the brownfield redevelopment project was slow but, more
importantly, it was successful", observed Mayor Harris, who is
committed to public involvement.
year, the Consortium will act as an advisory board to the already
successful redevelopment project. To ensure continued success, public
involvement will continue as the reuse plan is put into action.
members agreed that community involvement, job creation, work force
development, and effective local decision-making, can strengthen and
enrich the existing community as local entities move through the