|A popular reuse for both contaminated and floodprone properties is as open space, both to meet the needs of the community and to serve as flood storage during storm events. As such reuse generally lacks a repayment stream, financing the development of open space is a challenging proposition. Below are some approaches that have worked for some of our clients:
- Develop a coalition: Having a strong group vested in your project can provide you with access to additional funding sources, technical assistance, and community support. Potential strong coalition stakeholders: neighborhood non-profits, regulators, neighboring property owners, potential funders, county representatives, and regional open space or recreational advocates. What others can you add to the list? Maybe a local university or a foundation would also be interested in participating? Be creative!
- Establish a strong vision: Invest the money upfront for a strong conceptual plan. This will be an enormous help in attracting supporters and funders.
- Engage the Community: The community can be a great source of input in terms of the open space and recreational amenities most desired in the neighborhood. Engage area residents in visioning charrettes, include them in the coalition, organize volunteer planting or cleanup efforts, and involve them in the process. In addition to being a great resource during planning and implementation, establishing a feeling of ownership in the project will pay dividends later through having eyes on the park and assisting in the policing and maintenance of the facilities.
- Publicize initial successes: Open space projects often take a long time from vision to full implementation. Celebrating intermediate successes keeps the public and stakeholders engaged, attracts additional support, and allows you to demonstrate progress.
- Think broadly for financing: Technical assistance; tax incentives; low interest loans; loan guarantees; and of course grants from federal, state, county governments or private foundations are all viable means to fund your project.
- Think broadly for funding sources: Consider the different funding needs your project has, and seek out funding applicable to each need, such as planning, acquisition, environmental work, demolition, infrastructure improvements, development, landscaping. Also think about ancillary benefits of your project. Will it result in improved water quality or reduced flooding? These may point to additional funding sources.
- Be patient!: Open space projects often require the coordination of many different parts, and often take a long time. Don’t give up – the end result is worth the effort!