Success StoryBrownsfield Site Redevelopment



Brownsfield Site Redevelopment

Author: Elijah Wilson

Planning Unit: Cumberland County CES

Major Program: Economic Development

Plan of Work: Sustainable Economic Development

Outcome: Intermediate Outcome

Key to the success of any community is the active involvement and collaboration of government agencies, civic organizations, businesses, and residents. Networking and collaboration are essential for sustained community and economic development, especially in a community such as Cumberland County, which has limited resources due to a relatively small population (5,879 US Census, 2021) and tax base compared to other Kentucky counties.  

The perceived need for collaboration is evident by its inclusion in the Cumberland County Community Strategic Plan that was adopted in 2013. One of the five strategic priorities included in the plan is focused on facilitating and promoting communication and collaboration among community organizations, and government agencies to maximize the impact of available resources. Synergy that results from strategic collaboration helps advance Cumberland County and give a competitive edge in the race to improve the quality of life.   

In 2021, one ongoing Extension supported collaborative effort was the recipient of federal funding from the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) to help improve local Brownfields. The EPA defines Brownfields as “real property, the expansion, redevelopment, or reuse of which may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, contaminant, or pollutant”.  Some examples include old buildings, closed factories, old gas stations, and vacant buildings .

The EPA awarded the Lake Cumberland Area Development District a $300,000 grant to develop a Cumberland County Brownfield site inventory, conduct eight Phase I and four Phase II environmental site assessments, prepare four cleanup plans, and one area-wide plan.  Assessment activities so far have focused on Main Street’s Downtown Square and the Veterans Memorial Park District in the City of Burkesville. Priority sites include a former textile factory, land purchased for an industrial park, a former skating rink warehouse, and a former bottling and distribution facility. So far, seven Phase I assessments and two Phase II assessments have been completed. In addition to Cumberland County Extension and the Lake Cumberland Area Development District, coalition partners include the Cumberland County Fiscal Court, the City of Burkesville and community leaders. The grant project will conclude in 2023.

Extension is a trusted resource and partner. The authentic credibility and trust that Extension brings to the table helps federally supported efforts such as the aforementioned project be more effective and have greater impact. For this grant funded initiative to be effective it requires community engagement. Property owners must be made aware of the available resources and how the program could both benefit the property owner and the environment. For many rural residents any mention of the EPA causes anxiety. Extension staff help bridge the gap and we have been helping translate science for people for over 100 years

Timely clean up and revitalization of brownfield properties is key to the future economic vitality of Cumberland County. When brownfield sites are not addressed, communities suffer. Yet, when brownfield sites are redeveloped, they can have numerous positive benefits such as: job creation, increased economic growth and investment, increased tax base due to increased property value, neighborhood revitalization, plus air and water quality improvements. 






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