The Brownfields to Playfields pilot project program was established to accomplish one of the stewardship goals of Pennsylvania’s award-winning Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan to “Restore and repurpose brownfields, abandoned mine lands, and other damaged lands for recreation and conservation purposes through at least five pilot projects.” The goals of the pilot projects are to provide better project coordination, particularly in smaller and economically disadvantaged communities, by enhancing communication between selected projects and state agencies, and to identify additional state and federal funding sources to aid in the successful completion of the recreation project. It’s a great example of government that works, as well as multi-agency cooperation. The new parks and trails will contribute to the quality of life for many citizens and improve their communities.
In March 2017, the Pennsylvania Departments of Conservation and Natural Resources, Environmental Protection, and Community and Economic Development announced the selection of seven Brownfields to Playfields Pilot Projects:
- Mahanoy City Borough, Schuylkill County, Kaiers Playground – Demolition of a dilapidated five-story former brewery building and redevelopment of the site into a community playground.
- Carlisle Borough, Cumberland County, Fairground Avenue Linear Park – Redevelopment of former industrial parcels into a mixed-use development that includes a linear park with underlying green stormwater infrastructure.
- Susquehanna Depot Borough, Susquehanna County, Ira Reynolds Riverfront Park – Cleanup of former Erie railyard along the Susquehanna River and reuse as a community park.
- Williamsport City, Lycoming County, Susquehanna River Walk Extension – Design and engineering of a three-mile extension of the Susquehanna River Walk Trail through an old landfill site and past multiple brownfield sites. This project site is listed as one of Pennsylvania’s “Top 10 Trail Gaps.”
- Nanticoke City, Luzerne County, Lower Broadway Recreation Complex – Development of recreation complex adjacent to former manufactured gas plant.
- Charleroi Borough, Washington County, Waterfront Park – Redevelopment of former stadium and glass factory into a recreational complex along the Monongahela River south of Pittsburgh.
- Union Township, Washington County, Elrama Neighborhood Park – Redevelopment of a former chrome shop into a public park.
Results to Date:
In July 2017, a groundbreaking ceremony was held at the future site of Ira Reynolds Riverfront Park. The event recognized the importance of public and private organizations working together to realize the community’s vision for a new community park.
Group Manager, Bureau of Environmental Cleanup and Brownfields
Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection