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DPNR to Hold Brownfields Forum

Sept. 7, 2005 – The Planning and Natural Resources Department invites stakeholders to its second annual V.I. Brownfields Forum. It will be held Sept. 22 and Sept. 23 at Marriott Frenchman's Reef Beach Resort on St. Thomas. It runs from 8 a.m. to noon.
Admission is free, but space is limited so preregistration is necessary.
Clanicia Pelle, who coordinates the territory's Brownfields and Voluntary Clean-up program at Planning and Natural Resources, said the brownfields program was established to reclaim contaminated commercial and industrial areas.
"So they can be moved back into use in the community," she said. The term "brownfields" is broadly defined by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as land on which redevelopment is complicated by the possible presence of pollutants. The EPA has various programs in place to encourage the cleanup and redevelopment of many brownfields sites, which might otherwise scare investors off because of high costs or potential liability.
The forum will be held to help Planning and Natural Resources develop its program.
Pelle said the territory got its program rolling in 2003 with a $103,260 grant from the U.S. EPA. She said that money was used to send Planning and Natural Resources employees to the National Brownfield Conference in Portland, Ore., and to begin preliminary work on the program.
A $417,119 grant arrived in 2004, which is helping the department move along on its program. There is no target date as yet to begin reclamation work.
Pelle said the department first has to identify sites that need cleaning up. An enforcement authority will follow. Standards must be developed, and the public must be encouraged to participate.
"The foundation has been set to move forward," Planning Commissioner Dean Plaskett said in a news release Wednesday. He said the forum will provide another opportunity for the department to engage the community.
The forum will feature talks by representatives from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as well as brownfields specialists Charlie Bartsch of the North East/Mid West Institute and Al Price of Buffalo, New York's Planning Department.
Discussion will focus on public/private partnerships, land management procedures for redevelopment as well as other topics.
Pelle said stakeholders expected to attend the forum include financial institutions, environmental groups, non-profit organizations, church-based groups, the territory's legislators and government staff involved in the issue.
To register, call Pelle at 773-1082.

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