Brownfields Practicum – Sustainable Redevelopment of Brownfield Sites in Somerville, Massachusetts

Brownfields remain of the highest priority in the regeneration of the inner city. Defined by the US. Environmental Protection Agency as an \’abandoned, idled or underused industrial or commercial facility where expansion or redevelopment is complicated by real or perceived environmental contamination.\’ These derelict sites can at once ease urban land shortages as well as release pressure on rural greenfield sites. In addition they can redirect growth to areas and sites passed by due to liability concerns and clean up costs, and create more balanced regional and local growth patterns. In 1996, the U.S. General Accounting office estimated 450,000 brownfields to be found in the nation, listing 7,733 in the State of Massachusetts and 395 within the City of Boston. Brownfields redevelopment presents a unique opportunity to unite environmental, economic and social goals within a single problem-solving strategy or set of design and planning strategies, and to join diverse constituencies such as environmentalists, planners, designers engineers and community developers in the process. The class will first examine the economic, environmental, community, regulatory, engineering and development conditions surrounding brownfields. This will include lectures and discussions with stakeholders from federal, city and community agencies, as well as other professionals from the legal, financial, planning, engineering, and environmental risk assessment professions. Two local class field trips will take place to brownfield sites (abandoned and under regeneration) in Somerville and Chelsea.Through a rigorous practice component, student teams apply their general brownfield knowledge to particular challenges in the field on behalf of a local-based city authority- the City of Somerville and gain hands-on experience in applied environmental and economic development research and analysis, community practice, and sustainability planning and design. In this way class members will be exposed to brownfield challenges and constraints alongside creative inquiry and innovative design opportunities. In Spring 2005 the class tackled two sites-The Former Kiley Barrel Recycling Site, Union Square and The Waste Transfer Facility, off McGrath Highway in Somerville. In Spring 2006 the class tackled the Maxpak Site, Pats Towing, and Family Moving and Storage at 50 Tufts Street. In Spring 2007 the class tackled the Maxpak Site, 49-51 Allen Street and the Homans Public Works Building. Our client in the Spring 2008 semester will again be the City of Somerville through the Office of Housing and Community Development and three petroleum-based brownfield sites will be under consideration- again Pats Towing, (McGrath Highway) and two new sites Cross Street Garages (Cross Street East) and Broadway Brakes (Broadway) near the Somerville/Charlestown border.Professional visitors to the class will include the Davis Development Corporation, Somerville, MA, Carol Tucker brownfields coordinator, US.EPA Region 1 Office and Joe Ferrari, Program Lead, Brownfield Revolving Loan Fund, US. EPA Region 1 Office; Catherine Finneran, brownfields coordinator, Massachusetts DEP; Rosanna Sattler and Ann Sobolewski, environmental lawyers, Boston; Dr Kurt Franzen, environmental engineer, CT; William Penn, brownfields finance consultant, Rhode Island; Deborah Wojcicki, hydrogeologist and brownfield LSP, Connecticut; Steve Soler, brownfield development consultant; Connecticut; Cheryl Ruane, landscape architect, Weston and Sampson Inc., environmental engineers, Peabody, MA, Peter Mills, Environmental Programs Manager, Office of Strategic Planning and Community Development, City of Somerville Chris Reed, landscape architect and urban designer, Stoss Inc, Boston, Enrollment is open to all students in graduate standing as well as undergraduates from Harvard College. In the last five years the class has included designers, planners, environmental science concentrator