On Monday, PADEP Secretary John Hanger named Ken Reisinger as the Acting Deputy Secretary for Waste, Air and Radiation Management to replace the recently retired Tom Fidler. Ken was previously the Director of the Waste Management Bureau, one of three bureaus under that deputate. Ken now adds air quality and radiation protection to his prior responsibilities managing the programs covering hazardous, residual and municipal waste, remediation services (HSCA and CERCLA) and storage tanks. Ken is a veteran of the Department having previously served as Chief of the Division of Waterways, Wetlands and Erosion Control. In my many dealings with Ken he has proven himself to be an excellent listener and problem solver. As Jim Seif would say, Ken is one of those guys that "gets it" and understands the need to get things done. He's racked up many accomplishments through his tenure at the Department and my expectation is he will bring an enormous amount of energy to this new position. Being Tom Fidler's replacement, Ken has some very big shoes to fill. Although Ken doesn't have direct responsibility for the management of the Land Recycling program, Ken's responsibilities over air and waste permitting, remediation (including the implementation of the Clean Fill Policy ) and storage tanks makes his position extremely important in the continued success of brownfield redevelopment efforts in Pennsylvania. Having spoken with Ken at Tom Fidler's retirement party last week, I know that Ken is up to the task and I wish him well in his new role.
Welcome to the Pennsylvania Brownfields Blog. My name is Joel Bolstein and I am the co-chair of the environmental law practice group at Fox Rothschild LLP. I am starting this blog as a way of communicating with others interested in all matters relating to the reuse of former industrial sites in Pennsylvania and around the country. Why do I think I am qualified to write about Pennsylvania brownfields? One of my claims to fame is that I was Deputy Secretary at the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PADEP) from 1995 to 1997 and in that capacity I helped manage the development of the Land Recycling Program (referred to as Act 2), including the preparation of the Act 2 regulations and the first edition of the Act 2 technical guidance manual. Pennsylvania's Land Recycling Program won a number of prestigious awards and was recognized as a national model for state brownfield programs. Here is a picture of me with Governor Tom Ridge and PADEP Secretary Jim Seif with the Innovations in American Government Award from the Ford Foundation and the Kennedy School of Government and the Innovations Award from the Council of State Governments.
I'm the guy in the middle. Working at the Department was very rewarding professionally and personally, and I enjoyed interacting with a very dedicated group of public servants committed to protecting the environment. When I left DEP, I set out to practice what I preached by working with brownfield developers, including public entities, to help reclaim former industrial sites and put them back into productive use. Since 1997, I've worked on many brownfield redevelopment projects. They range in scope and size from turning a former corner gas station into a drugstore to helping the largest casino company in the world build a harness track and slot parlor on a former shipyard. In addition to working for many private clients, I have served as the special outside environmental solicitor to the Bucks County Redevelopment Authority (BCRDA) since 1997. One of our projects involved remediating a former World War I shipyard and chemical factory on the Delaware River and replacing it with a residential retirement community and the worldwide headquarters of the Lennox factory. You can read about that project, known as Riverfront North, on the BCRDA website. Here is a picture of me with Bob White, the Executive Director of the Redevelopment Authority with former EPA Administrator Christie Whitman when she came to the Riverfront North site to make a check presentation.
The condos from the new retirement community are in the background. Incidentally, the median income in Bristol Borough was about $65,000 at the time, and these condos were being sold for just over $200,000. I'm told that they are now reselling for more than double that amount. I've worked on many projects that converted brownfields to residential communities and I have a number of them currently in the pipeline. Despite a cooling housing market, redeveloping brownfields into residential properties continues to be a hot area, especially if the project involves town-homes or condominiums. Some of the topics I expect to cover on the blog include brownfield success stories, useful tips for completing brownfield projects, working with PADEP, the MOA between PADEP and USEPA, obtaining federal and state funding, the best ways of working with your local redevelopment authority, new and evolving policies, such as vapor intrusion, navigating the management of fill policy, using Buyer/Seller Agreements and SIA Agreements, deed notices and institutional controls.
This blog is intended to start a dialog with others that work on brownfield redevelopment projects including government policy makers, developers, attorneys, lenders, consultants, and the general public. One thing I like about working on brownfield projects is that I get to see the benefits these projects bring to local communities, including cleaning up blighted properties, replacing them with vibrant new businesses or homes, and creating jobs and economic opportunities. I'm proud that I played some part in putting together the Pennsylvania brownfields program, and I continue to enjoy working with the ECP staff at PADEP throughout the Commonwealth.
If you have an interest in brownfield redevelopment, I hope you will add my blog to your reading list and check back frequently to read future posts. If you are in a state other than Pennsylvania, or in another country, feel free to post a comment regarding your own brownfield program. I'm happy to respond to comments and answer questions.