Pallone Calls on Congress to Pass Bipartisan Brownfields Legislation at Waterfront Park on Raritan River
Woodbridge, NJ– Today at the Woodbridge waterfront, Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06) called on Congress to pass the bipartisan Brownfields Enhancement, Economic Redevelopment, and Reauthorization Act of 2017, which is scheduled to come for a vote this week in the House of Representatives. The brownfields program was created in 2002 by bipartisan legislation authored in the House by Pallone and the late Rep. Paul Gillmor of Ohio.
As the Ranking Member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, Pallone worked closely with his colleagues in a bipartisan fashion to advance the reauthorization legislation out of the committee earlier this year, and will lead floor debate for Democrats on Thursday. The legislation will extend the federal Brownfields fund at current levels through 2022 and will also raise the cap on funding for cleanup grants from $200,000 to $500,000 per site.
“By almost any metric, the Brownfields program has been a remarkable success,” said Pallone. “Removing public health hazards by cleaning up contaminated sites is incredibly important for the surrounding communities. It is also a job creator that primes the pump for local investment and development. I’m proud we are working on a bipartisan basis to reauthorize a program that makes a real difference in New Jersey communities.”
The brownfields program assists communities with the cleanup of former industrial properties where redevelopment is complicated by the presence of environmental contamination. When the program was first authorized, there were an estimated 450,000 brownfields properties in the U.S. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), more than 59,000 brownfields sites have already been revitalized.
Since 2002, New Jersey has received over $34 million in Brownfields grants. The vast majority of these funds, approximately $29 million, were awarded for assessment and cleanup efforts. Last year, Asbury Park received $400,000 in Brownfields Grants.
In 2009, the Department of Environmental Protection designated the Woodbridge Waterfront as a Brownfields Development Area. The Keasbey Woodbridge Redevelopment Zone includes the FedEx Ground Transportation Terminal & Warehouse, Wakefern Food Corp, Graydell, and a waterfront park that is currently under construction. Since 2010, EPA Region 2 has granted nearly $4 million to NJDEP to help revitalize brownfields in the state, including the Woodbridge waterfront.
When completed, the park will include approximately 30 acres of nature area with restored wetlands/uplands, more than 7,000 feet of walking trails circling the restored wetlands, 800 feet of boardwalk overlooking natural wetland areas, a viewing platform at the Raritan River, bird blinds for observing wildlife, educational signs, gathering spaces with seating, and bus parking.