EPA's 1st "Excellence in Site Reuse" Award Goes to Tallahassee's Ex-Gas Plant Park

1st epa award excellence site reuse tallahassee cascades park photo

Cascades Park, photo courtesy of webshots

The EPA debuted a new award this year—the "Excellence in Site Reuse" honor, which is awarded for, you guessed it, the most innovative and comprehensive efforts to renovate and reuse dilapidated or formerly contaminated sites. And the first ever award goes to Tallahassee for its efforts in completely revitalizing Cascades Park—transforming an abandoned gas plant site into a world class public park.Since the city acquired the land that comprises Cascade Park nearly 200 years ago, it has been home to an electrical power plant, manufactured gas plant, and an incinerator—in addition to public park space and a ballpark. But even the public park component has been out of use for nearly 20 years because, surprise, the soil was found to be contaminated back in the 1980s.

In 2004, when the city of Tallahassee regained the property from the State, it set about locating and removing the contamination. Starting two years ago, the city contracted WRScompass to systematically remove all the contaminated soil. The cleanup effort ended up removing a grand total of 80,000 tons of contaminated soil, and setup a long term groundwater monitoring system to ensure future safety. The land is now fit to be returned wholly to public park status. In all, the project cost around $7.8 million.

The site reuse award is a worthy idea—it may inspire states and municipalities to accelerate brownfield redevelopment efforts, and may make for some surprising fun with Superfund Sites. Keep your eyes peeled for next year's recipient, and see which will be the next best brownfield site restored and put to work.

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