In the highly competitive nationwide Brownfield National Partnership grant program, the City of Glen Cove was chosen as one of only 16 Brownfield Showcase Communities. Glen Cove, the smallest community to be selected and the only one from this state, will receive $1.4 million in targeted federal funds from 20 federal agencies for brownfield cleanup and revitalization. The Clinton Administration's Brownfield National Partnership is a two-year $300 million program to recycle and reuse abandoned pieces of land that are contaminated from previous industrial use. In addition to the funds, Glen Cove and the other 15 communities will serve as models for future cooperation among federal, state and local governments and the private sector in cleaning up and revitalizing brownfields.
Mayor Thomas Suozzi receives the Brownfield Showcase Community good news for Glen Cove from Vice President Al Gore.
Photo by Zefy Christopoulos
Mayor Thomas Suozzi received the news through a conference call with Vice President Al Gore which was received in the firehouse, just steps away from the brownfield-ridden Glen Cove Creek. The announcement was prefaced by a statement from US EPA administrator Carol Browner and was heard by all the mayors who participated in this nationwide telephone communication. As the crowd assembled in the firehouse waited for the vice president to name Glen Cove as a Showcase Community, Mayor Suozzi and CDA executive director Rob Benrubi, who convinced the mayor to at least try out for the grant and who then worked night and day in writing the applications, were visibly elated with anticipation at the upcoming announcement. Joining the mayor in the firehouse were representatives from environmental groups, friends, special consultants and Sea Cliff Village Trustee Vito Capuco. Glen Cove City Councilmen John Maccarone and Steve Gonzalez did not attend the festivities.
Everyone waited patiently as the mayors of Los Angeles, CA; Baltimore, MD; Dallas, TX; both Kansas Cities; Hollywood, FL; East Palo Alto, CA; Salt Lake City, UT; Lowell, MA; Seattle, WA; Portland, OR; Providence, RI; St. Paul, MN; Stamford, CT; and Trenton, NJ. expressed their appreciation as grant recipients. Chicago, IL, will also receive federal funds, but Mayor Daly was unable to be reached.
The vice president said each of the mayors have pushed extremely hard for this kind of effective movement on brownfields. "What this is going to do is make a magnet for progress and we're very excited about this. The cities joining us on this conference call are ones that have been chosen as Brownfield Showcase Communities. The communities will serve together as the centerpiece of the Brownfields National Partnership. We are focusing the resources of more than 20 federal agencies on the job of cleaning up brownfields to make them centers of economic vitality, job creation and community pride. Your cities will receive targeted, coordinated assistance from agencies across the administration and you'll get the tools you've been asking for to help yourselves. This will help you realize your plan to better your communities and your regions. In turn you will serve as models to other communities in this country inspiring similar efforts in cities and towns all across America," said Vice President Gore.
As the vice president uttered the words, "and finally we're going to Glen Cove, NY," a loud cheer and applause erupted in the St. Patrick's Day geared firehouse. Vice President Gore exchanged pleasantries with an elated Mayor Suozzi. "There's a lot going on in your community. Tell us why you're excited about Glen Cove being a Showcase Community." Mayor Suozzi responded, "We're the smallest city to be chosen for this award. You're helping us to navigate the maze of so many different agencies. We're going to transform an area that is now an environmental liability into a regional tourism destination. We invite you to come to Glen Cove on Earth Day, April 22, when we will blow up the smokestack on one of our Superfund sites, [LiTungsten]. We are very grateful and we promise to use the money wisely."
Mayor Suozzi has made the revitalization of the Glen Cove waterfront a top priority in each of his three terms in office. Mr. Benrubi took the lead in obtaining these brownfield program funds by first writing a two-page statement of interest describing why Glen Cove should be named a Showcase Community. Mr. Benrubi described how Glen Cove is a positive model on how to clean up and redevelop brownfields and sent it to the federal government. "We were then notified that we were a finalist, one out of 40 cities. We followed with a 10-page narrative regarding the potential the brownfields around the creek could realize. We wrote about how important this is to the community and included that the waterfront district is in a HUD designated urban blight zone. We also sent letters of support from 25 people including Senator Moynihan, Congressmen King and Ackerman and local business people. We submitted a list of the federal, state and local partnerships we have garnered through the whole process," said Mr. Benrubi. Working closely with him was CDA program coordinator Myralee Machol as well as a long list of city hall staff members. "Being a small city, every department was involved in this project on top of the regular day to day work," added Mr. Benrubi.