CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. – Brownfields are abandoned properties that can be redeveloped for future use. They are typically the locations of previous industrial sites, and are likely complicated by the presence of hazardous substances.
Unfortunately, over 200 brownfield sites have been identified in the Alton Park area alone. This area was once home to the industrial and textile mills, chemical plants, and manufacturing hubs that made this part of Chattanooga a booming city. In the past century, however, the population and the industrial plants declined, leaving Alton Park area to become home to illegal dumping of pollutants, abandoned properties, and more.
Chamber Vice President of Economic Development Charles Wood said, “There are quite a few,” about brownfield sites in the city, “They offer an opportunity [to rebuild] with infrastructure already in place.”
Wood said his preference is to redo larger sites. “Those would allow for a substantial project,” he said.
The EPA brownfield cleanup grant has awarded Hamilton County 400,000 dollars toward the excavation and redevelopment of these sites. Chattanooga has chosen to cleanup the 54-acre Old 36th street Landfill site, which is contaminated with polyaromatic hydrocarbons. Funds will also be used to clean up the 9.5 acres of Old Railroad property stretching from Tennessee Avenue to W. 37th street. This area was previously used for unauthorized dumping, and is highly contaminated with polyaromatic hydrocarbons and metals.
(You can view a video of the brownfield site on Tennessee Avenue Here)
Richard Beeland, a spokesman for Chattanooga Mayor Ron Littlefield, said the mayor likes the concept.
“It puts untaxable property on the rolls. It recruits jobs. It has existing infrastructure,” he said.
David DeVaney, president of NAI Charter Real Estate Corp., said “Since brownfield sites are in places such as Alton Park, attracting businesses to the locations is a way of bringing jobs back to the central city.”
The Chattanooga City Council just recently amended a resolution for director of general services Dan Thornton to complete contracts with companies Terracon, Thomas Brothers Construction, and Wright Brothers Construction in the cleanup of these different sites.
Thornton said, “How much work it takes to clean up a brownfield depends on the contaminant at the site. Cleanup can take months, depending on the site.”
According to the Times Free Press, “Five years ago, Chattanooga’s Enterprise South industrial park was a 6,000-acre brownfield. Today, it holds the only auto plant in the world — the Volkswagen facility — that has Platinum Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification.”
Restoring these brownfield sites not only betters the environment, but it provides opportunities for more commercial and industrial businesses to come to Chattanooga and provide residents with jobs.
For more information about brownfield cleanups in Tennessee, click here to visit the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation’s brownfield redevelopment information page.