Sustainable Long Island recognizes that brownfield redevelopment is the future of growth on Long Island.

Long Island redevelopment is hindered by the limited supply of large parcels of unused land, making the reuse of existing properties all the more important. Brownfields are real properties, where expansion, redevelopment or reuse may be complicated by the presence, or potential presence, of a hazardous substance, pollutant or contaminant. These properties may be current or former dry cleaners, warehouses, gas stations, schools, and other industrial or commercial parcels.

Imagine this scenario: Long Island cleans up and redevelops all of its potential brownfields. Studies show that for every acre of brownfield that is redeveloped, three acres of open space are preserved. The resulting development of Long Island’s brownfields could create 60,000 full-time jobs, $6.8 billion in business revenue, and $340 million in tax revenue – all without infringing on a single acre of Long Island’s dwindling open spaces.

A partner on dozens of brownfield redevelopment projects for nearly two decades, Sustainable Long Island maps brownfields where they occur in Nassau and Suffolk Counties, advocates for legislation and funding to support redevelopment, and always strives to move implementation forward in communities that express the want and need for downtown revitalization. Just a few of our accomplishments in this area include:

Examples of Brownfield Redevelopment Project Results:

  • Launched the first public database of Long Island’s potential brownfields. When the maps open, select the MAP OPTIONS along the top of the maps (next to the “Zoom to village/hamlet” dropdown box). Select the TRANSPORTATION & REFERENCE option. About 3/4’s of the way down the list you’ll see two options under “Environment” — Cleaned remediation site and Environmental remediation site (brownfields). Select Environmental remediation site.  Orange “B” icons will appear across the map. Zoom in to one area that you are interested in seeing in more detail. Click on the icon to get more information about the site itself from the DEC website.
  • Hosted three regional brownfields conferences and conducted over 100 presentations to introduce the concept to people across Long Island.
  • Helped craft the language and supported the passage of statewide brownfields cleanup legislation, adopted by Albany in 2003.
  • Created Brownfields-to-Greenfields, a how-to redevelopment manual distributed regionally, with a second edition released in 2011:
    • The purpose of this “roadmap” is to provide an understanding of the brownfield redevelopment process and the opportunities available in New York.  It is designed to provide information for local government officials seeking to facilitate brownfield redevelopment in their communities, citizens hoping to understand how the process affects them, developers and investors seeking to participate in this growing marketplace, groups that wish to facilitate the redevelopment process, and end-users of redeveloped property.  The ultimate goal is to facilitate full stakeholder participation in the brownfield process. This manual provides information on: New York State, federal and private funding and financial incentives; technical assistance and liability protection available for the cleanup and redevelopment of brownfield sites in New York State; and an overview of the various brownfield programs offered by New York State.
  • Developed and launched the Brownfield Busters Patch Program in Nassau and Suffolk Counties, an educational program developed to teach Long Island Girl Scouts about brownfields and environmental leadership; and presented the program at the EPA National Brownfield Conference receiving a regional EPA award for the program.
  • Consistently organizes individual meetings with municipalities and the Department of State to explore utilizing Brownfield Opportunity Area (BOA) planning grants to further revitalization goals within their specific localities. We’ve worked on BOA programs for the Town of Babylon/Wyandanch; Village of Freeport; City of Long Beach; Huntington Station; Town of Riverhead; and Hicksville.
    • The Brownfield Opportunity Area (BOA) Program provides municipalities and community organizations with expertise and financial assistance of up to 90% of the total eligible project costs to complete redevelopment and implementation strategies and plans for brownfields in an area wide rather than a traditional site by site approach. The Department of State administers the BOA program and NYSDEC provides relevant technical assistance and advice to the Department of State and BOA grantees. The area-wide approach enables communities to comprehensively assess existing economic and environmental conditions associated with brownfield impacted areas. The BOA planning framework is flexible and can be adjusted and tailored to meet specific community needs. These planning and implementation strategies can include community visioning, public participation processes, existing conditions analysis, economic and market studies to assist in determining the best use of brownfields and vacant sites; environmental investigation; site-specific redevelopment plans; environmental impact assessments; marketing material, local law changes, architectural and streetscape design and other actions to spur investment and redevelopment of brownfields.
      • The BOA program has been grossly under-utilized in Long Island, and Sustainable Long Island attempts to further the community development efforts of Long Island municipalities by assisting them with the application process.
  • Participated in a number of regional and national conferences and committees including EPA’s National Brownfield Conference, co-chair of NYS chapter of National Brownfield Association, invited by The Ferguson Group to be members of a national committee of organizations committed to advancing brownfield redevelopment initiatives.
  • Has organized brownfield breakfast series which include meetings with Long Island municipalities to promote BOA applications as well as offer technical assistance.
  • Advocated for expedited redevelopment of contaminated properties by proposing various policies such as the inclusion of Class 2 inactive hazardous waste Superfund sites in the definition of a brownfield, so that they would qualify for the Brownfield Cleanup Program (BCP). This was based on Sustainable Long Island’s research indicating that Nassau and Suffolk have the greatest concentration of Class 2 State Superfund sites in the state, which have been difficult to cleanup. The difficulty is due to the reluctance of companies to accept responsibility for the site and the underfunded Superfund program.
  • Created a Long Island-wide Brownfield Advisory Committee, or task force, to bring urgent brownfield matters to the forefront and look for opportunities to redevelop brownfields including widely distributing the newly revised Brownfields to Greenfields manual as well as a brownfields survey to scope the current understanding of brownfields.


Brownfield Opportunity Area (BOA) History and Status

Community Project Year SLI Role Project Status
Village of Farmingdale BOA Step 2 2011 Assisted Village with community outreach & engagement Completed: Village Board accepted State Env. Quality Review Act (SEQRA) Environmental Findings Statement Village preparing for Step 3 Report available here.
Village of Freeport Application for BOA Step 2 2010-11 If approved, SLI will conduct outreach & community engagement Application for BOA Step 2 submitted to NYS DOS 9/2011 *Pending Gov. approval
Hicksville BOA Step 1 (NW) 2012 Assist lead (H2M) with community outreach & engagement Completed in 2014. Final report to be added soon. Read more here.
  BOA Step 2 (SE) 2012 Assist lead (NP&V) with community outreach & engagement Completed in 2014. Final report to be added soon. Read more here.
Huntington Station BOA Step 1 (phase I) 2009-10 Assist lead (Gannett Fleming) with community outreach & engagement Draft Nomination study prepared & submitted June 2010.
  BOA Step 2 (phase II) 2012 – Assist lead (Gannett Fleming) with community outreach & engagement Sustainable Long Island’s community outreach and public participation completed.
Long Beach BOA Step 1 2008 Assist lead (Gannett Fleming) with community outreach & engagement Completed Pre-Nomination Study submitted in February 2009, available on City’s website. Pending effort by non-profit group, Long Beach Latino Civic Assoc. to continue BOA work. Pre-Nomination Study available here.
Riverhead BOA Step 2 2013 Assist lead consultant (Nelson, Pope & Voorhis) with community participation & engagement Process ongoing – draft nomination study currently being drafted. Expected completion in early 2015. Note: Project received “Outstanding BOA Award” from New Partners for Community Revitalization in June 2014.
Wyandanch BOA Step 1 & 2 2006-09 Assist lead (Town of Babylon) with community outreach & engagement Final NYS BOA Program Nomination submitted to State May 2009.
BOA Step 3 2010 Assist lead (Town of Babylon) with outreach for design charrette Implementation of Transit Oriented Development ongoing – known as “Wyandanch Village.”

Brownfields Survey

Brownfields to Greenfields 2011

What are brownfields?

We are surrounded by brownfields and most of the time, we don’t even know it. It is said Long Island has over 6800 brownfields!

A brownfield is any former industrial or commercial property where redevelopment is complicated by either real or perceived contamination.

A brownfield might be a former factory, gasoline station, dry cleaners, storage facility, or business where chemicals or solvents were used or stored.

A brownfieldmight be a warehouse, parking lot, hangar, abandoned railroad switching yard or storage area, air strip, bus facility, or land fill.

A brownfield that remains idle is not benign. If there is real contamination resulting from prior use, then failure to clean up the site poses a present threat to the quality of our water supply, air, and surrounding soil.  If left idle, a brownfield can blight an entire neighborhood and put it into decline.

Why redevelop brownfields?

To save our open spaces…

When World War II veterans and their families began moving in large numbers to Long Island in the 1950s, they were drawn by the region’s rural surroundings and small-town charm. On Long Island, one could truly have it all: the beauty of forests, meadows, and pristine shorelines, and effortless access to bustling New York City.

Over the next 50 years, Long Island’s growth would be driven by a booming economy, railroad and highway construction, and unprecedented population growth. Properties were developed and abandoned, and yet the towns pushed ever outward, swallowing more and more of Long Island’s seemingly unlimited open spaces.

The need for a new development model is urgent. Unless we come up with a new way to grow, the last of Long Island’s open spaces will be lost within 20 years. For every acre of brownfields that we redevelop today, it is said we save three acres of open space tomorrow.
To breathe new life into our communities…

The next time you pass an empty lot or abandoned building on Long Island, consider the businesses and housing that could fill that space. Imagine the revenue and jobs that a new community business would create. Think about the tax dollars that would flow into our schools and towns.

Long Island’s brownfields are disbursed throughout all our towns and villages. However, concentrations of brownfields can often be found in socioeconomically disadvantaged communities. It is estimated that the redevelopment of Long Island’s brownfields will generate 60,000 full-time jobs, $6.8 billion in business revenue, and $340 million in tax revenue. Brownfields are not just blights on our streets – they are untapped opportunities for our communities to prosper. They are the future of growth on Long Island.

How to redevelop brownfields?

Brownfield to Greenfields

Decide if the community is ready and willing to take on a redevelopment project that will take years to complete.

  • Leadership and leadership training
  • Collaborations
  • Coalitions
  • Resources
  • Common goals

Identify brownfields in the community and decide which sites to redevelop.

  • Investigation of history of use – how toxic is it?
  • Who owns the property?  Has it been abandoned?
  • What does the community need?  Affordable housing, a recreation and senior center, retail stores, area employment, grocery store, office rentals, or a mixed-use town center

Match up a potential redeveloper with a cleanup strategy.

  • Work with the redeveloper to find a cleanup strategy that satisfies the needs of the community and is affordable to the redeveloper.
  • Choose among federal and state programs that finance cleanup and provide incentives to redevelop brownfields.
  • Create a working relationship with the redeveloper, administrative agencies, and financing institutions so that the community’s voice is heard throughout the process.