The City of Milwaukee has made the reuse and redevelopment of land a high priority. Development efforts, however, can sometimes encounter the challenge of potentially contaminated properties, which are commonly referred to as "brownfields".
What is a brownfield?
The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) defines brownfields as "abandoned, idled, or under-utilized industrial and commercial facilities where expansion or redevelopment is complicated by real or perceived environmental contamination." The term "brownfield" was first used to distinguish developed land from unused suburban and rural land, referred to as "greenfield" sites.
As the EPA definition suggests, land reuse issues can often create challenges because of perceived - not actual - contamination. Most land in urban areas is well suited for redevelopment (because of the presence of existing infrastructure, etc.) and is not contaminated. Even when land does face environmental contamination, it often can be redeveloped at a reasonable cost and in a timely manner.
The purpose of Milwaukee's Brownfields Initiative is to create jobs and generate tax revenues through industrial and neighborhood redevelopment on brownfield sites.
The City of Milwaukee was one of 16 communities selected by the EPA as Brownfields Showcase Communities, "models of brownfields redevelopment and interagency collaboration."
There are global benefits to the redevelopment of brownfields. Choosing a brownfield over a greenfield reduces urban sprawl, and, therefore, the negative impacts that urban sprawl has on air, water, and habitat quality.
If you have questions about the Milwaukee Brownfields Initiative, or if you would like additional information, e-mail brownfields at the Milwaukee Department of City Development or give us a call at (414) 286-5642.