Why brownfields? Why McLoughlin?
McLoughlin Boulevard is one of greater Portland’s historic jobs and transportation corridors. But as jobs have moved elsewhere due to community change, much of the corridor is struggling economically.
What is a brownfield?
A brownfield is a property where the expansion, redevelopment or reuse is complicated by the presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant or contaminant.
Scores of properties in the McLoughlin corridor sit vacant because of real or perceived brownfield contamination. Some of these brownfields were once gas stations, auto repair shops or other businesses that used petroleum-related chemicals with long term environmental impacts. Others were large industrial operations. Cleaning up and finding new uses for these brownfields helps create healthier communities and a healthier economy in the McLoughlin corridor.
With the recent opening of the MAX Orange Line on the northern edge of the corridor and coordinated efforts to provide public access to the Willamette Falls site, this area is well positioned for brownfield assessment and cleanup that can spur economic investment, improved access to jobs and better connections to natural areas along the corridor.
First step: site assessments
Metro, Clackamas County and Oregon City are working with businesses and community members to identify brownfield sites along a 9-mile stretch of Southeast McLoughlin Boulevard from Milwaukie to Oregon City. This work is supported by a three-year Environmental Protection Agency grant.
The project focuses on five main outcomes:
- conduct full site assessments on up to 20 sites within the study area
- work with community members to increase understanding of how brownfields impact communities and how to engage in cleanup and redevelopment
- provide technical assistance to property owners on how to address contaminated sites
- work with community members and potential developers to move forward with site cleanups based on redevelopment opportunities
- build capacity of residents and local businesses to learn about careers and job opportunities in environmental remediation and redevelopment.
The project is guided by a brownfield advisory group including representatives from residents, local government staff, elected officials, DEQ staff, local business leaders, environmental advocates and members of several civic organizations. The advisory group selects priority sites for assessment, cleanup and reuse planning and provides ongoing feedback to project staff.
Project staff will engage many other partners to expand project outreach and capacity-building activities such as:
- sharing project information and opportunities for public input with their networks
- supporting engagement staff and contractors with community surveys
- conducting community education activities at assessment sites
- targeting outreach and input opportunities to historically underrepresented groups in the corridor
- building capacity of youth and local residents to learn about careers in environmental remediation.
This project is part of larger regional and statewide efforts to address brownfield remediation and redevelopment. Since 2013, Metro has led a statewide Oregon Brownfield Coalition that represents diverse interests. The coalition’s legislative workgroup advocates for land bank legislation, funding for the statewide brownfield program, property tax incentive programs, and a statewide income tax credit for brownfield assessment and cleanup.