Several University of Louisiana at Monroe faculty members have organized an event that will educate the public about revitalizing local depressed areas. The community is invited to participate in the Brownfields Conference from 8 a.m. 4:30 p.m. Thursday, March 30 on the seventh floor of the ULM Library.
To fund the upcoming conference, ULM faculty applied for a $2,000 grant with the option of an additional $1,000 if needed.
The LA Department of Environmental Quality and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency are donating speakers and providing materials. Farm Bureau is giving $500 worth of supplies for attendees, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the EDC are also cooperating partners.
Participants will listen to new ideas, participate in an open discussion and receive educational materials concerning economic development. This is an opportunity for people to network in northern Louisiana, not just Monroe, Dr. Joe McGahan, a ULM psychology professor who helped organize the conference, said.
“President Cofer realizes the importance of being connected to the community, and the community to ULM,” said McGahan. “I’m grateful to be in Louisiana right nowthis is an historic opportunity.”
The Small Business Liability Relief and Brownfields Revitalization Act (signed into law Jan. 11, 2002) defines a brownfields site as real property whose redevelopment, reuse or expansion may be compromised by a pollutant.
The EPA cultivated the Brownfields Program to allow stakeholders in economic development, whether private, non-profit, state, or federal to cooperate in the prevention and assessment of an area deemed a brownfields site. The program also supports interested parties in improving and reusing the area.
Dr. John Sutherlin, government professor, is hopeful about the possibilities of the Brownfields program.
“We want to raise awareness among those who are most likely to participate in Brownfields projects,” said Sutherlin. “Brownfields is a holistic approach to solving environmental problems using market forces and government oversight. I’d like to see some projects develop out of this,” said Sutherlin.
Sutherlin said that potential non-profit partners like the Trust for Public Land often join in when there is a demonstrated personal and community interest that transcends politics.
“I know the Trust for Public Land has expressed interest in doing projects in this area when they never have beforebecause of this conference,” said Sutherlin.
He considers the conference to be a win-win for the region. Cleaning up areas like DeSiard Street and bringing in businesses would allow the city to increase revenues instead of having to cut back on services.
“There are many things we can do to help revitalize this area, and we can begin with this project,” said Sutherlin. “This is good for the parish, it’s good for the state and it’s good for the university.”
Dr. Virginia Eaton, director of graduate studies and research, and Natalie Campbell, assistant director of graduate studies and research, are also organizing the conference.
The conference is free of charge.
For more information, contact: 318-342-1541 or e-mail sutherlin@ulm.