EPA and Partners Host First Redevelopment Forum For Jacksonville Residents
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), as part if its 10th annual Community Involvement Conference (CIC) and Training in Jacksonville, Fl. (June 19-22, 2007), is working with local communities in Jacksonville to host a Community-Initiated Redevelopment Forum. The Forum is open to the public and will be held tonight at the Jacksonville Main Public Library on N. Laura Street between 5:30 and 8:30 p.m.
“EPA is pleased to host this first-of-its-kind public forum as part of the agency’s annual community involvement training,” said Jimmy Palmer, EPA Regional Administrator in Atlanta. “It’s a great opportunity for our staff to utilize their public involvement skills to collaborate with residents and local agencies on environmental issues that will benefit Jacksonville for years to come.”
More than two dozen residents and representatives from EPA and other federal, state and local agencies, nonprofit organizations and academic institutions collaborated to design a forum that would address the most pressing environmental justice issues impacting Jacksonville. For months leading up to the CIC, the community-driven planning committee researched and selected a focus issue and brought together the right stakeholders to address it.
The planning committee’s efforts culminate tonight at a facilitated public collaborative problem-solving session. More than 100 residents from Jacksonville’s Urban Core are expected to attend the event. Together, agency officials and residents will explore what the communities in Jacksonville’s Urban Core would like to see on contaminated and abandoned sites when they are cleaned up and redeveloped. Tools and strategies will be shared to help residents understand how they can influence the redevelopment process to help meet community needs.
Jacksonville residents are particularly concerned about cleaning up and redeveloping contaminated sites throughout the city in order to bring them back into productive uses. Most notably, over the next two years, the three Jacksonville Ash sites, which together encompass 20 acres of Jacksonville’s Urban Core, will be cleanup up. These sites, along with Brownfields, vacant and abandoned lots or other properties where contamination is suspected, present a major opportunity for residents in the vicinity to collaborate with developers and revitalize their neighborhoods. The Community-Initiated Redevelopment Forum is designed to move this process forward.
“We view this conference as a welcome addition to the ongoing struggle to revitalize our community, including the contaminated sites that people have lived on for decades,” Laurence Tunsil of Citizens Organized for Environmental Justice, a local nonprofit that has helped organize the Forum.”
More information about the EPA’s Community Involvement Conference being held June 19-22, 2007, in Jacksonville can be found online at: http://www.epa.gov/superfund/action/community/ciconference/.
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