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Brownfields to Playfields

The Brownfields to Playfields initiative seeks to expand recreational and land conservation uses on vacant industrial or commercial properties, known as “brownfields.” Restoring and repurposing brownfields is an important stewardship goal of Pennsylvania’s Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan. The mission is accomplished by providing assistance, particularly for smaller and underserved communities, through a multi-agency task force comprised of the state departments of Natural and Conservation Resources (DCNR), Environmental Protection (DEP) and Community and Economic Development (DCED).

When completed, new parks and trails will improve the quality of life for many citizens. Local communities are benefiting from efforts to coordinate key partners; enhance coordination between state agencies and communities; and identify funding resources to aid in the successful completion of the projects. It is a great example of government that works, as well as interagency cooperation.

The task force is currently working with seven pilot projects located across Pennsylvania. More than 40 acres of former industrial or commercial land will be turned into new parks and greenspaces for recreational uses including a playground; riverfront access for boating; trails connecting neighborhoods for walking/biking; soccer sports field; children’s splash park; pop-up art display; farmers market; and rain garden and wet meadow as part of innovative green stormwater management.

Pilot Project Information

Mahanoy City Borough, Schuylkill County, Kaiers Playground (PDF)
Demolition of a dilapidated former brewery building and redevelopment into a community playground.

Carlisle Borough, Cumberland County, Fairground Avenue Linear Park (PDF)
Redevelopment of former industrial parcel into a mixed-use development with a linear park.

Susquehanna Depot Borough, Susquehanna County Ira Reynolds Riverfront Park (PDF)
Redevelopment of former Erie rail yard along Susquehanna River into a community park.

Williamsport City, Lycoming County, Susquehanna River Walk Extension (PDF)
Design and engineering of a 3-mile extension of the Susquehanna River Walk Trail through an old landfill site and past multiple brownfield sites. This project is designated by DCNR as one of Pennsylvania’s “Top 10 Trail Gaps.”

Nanticoke City, Luzerne County, Lower Broadway Recreation Complex (PDF)
Further characterization of former scrap yard followed by development of sports fields.

Charleroi Borough, Washington County, Waterfront Park (PDF)
Redevelopment of a former stadium and glass factory site into a recreational complex.

Union Township, Washington County, Elrama Neighborhood Park (PDF)
Redevelopment of former chrome shop into a public park.

Sources of Funding and Assistance

  • Brownfield Development Guide describes the brownfields development process and provides resources for meeting cleanup challenges, engaging communities and financial assistance programs. Brownfield Development Guide (PDF)
  • Brownfield Process Diagram (PDF) aids in understanding the steps for redevelopment.
  • DEP Regional Offices – DEP Environmental Cleanup Program provides technical assistance for assessment and remediation of brownfield sites and coordinates the approvals process for voluntary cleanup. The regional Local Government Liaison is one contact for information about all DEP program areas, including permitting activities through the Permit Application Consultation Tool.
  • DCNR Regional Advisors – workshops and grant funding for parks, trails and outdoor recreational uses. DCNR also manages our state parks and forests.
    DCNR regional Contacts (PDF)
  • DCED Regional Offices – community and economic assistance programs, including grants and loans for brownfields.
  • Industrial Sites Reuse Program – grants and loans are available for assessment and remediation of brownfield sites. The program is funded by DEP Hazardous Sites Cleanup Fund and administered by DCED.
  • U.S. EPA’s Brownfields Program provides grants and technical assistance to communities, states, tribes and others to assess, safely clean up and sustainably reuse contaminated properties. Region 3 office is located in Philadelphia.
    • EPA brownfield funding is announced annually for communities to apply for grants, loans, area-wide planning and job training.
    • EPA Targeted Brownfield Assessments application is online and is used to characterize a brownfield to determine the nature and extent of contamination. Results are provided at no charge to the community to assist them in redevelopment planning.
  • NJIT Technical Assistance to Brownfield (TAB) Communities is a program, funded by a grant from the U.S. EPA, which provides free technical assistance to state, regional, county and local government entities and nonprofit organizations interested in learning about, identifying, assessing, cleaning up, and redeveloping brownfield sites.