Journal Archive > 2002 > June

EPA award

Environmental heroes

An open space project in Bridgeport, Conn., for which Tufts engineering faculty and students served as advisers, has won an Environmental Merit Award from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The awards, given out since 1970, honor individuals and groups who have shown particular ingenuity and commitment in their efforts to preserve the region's environment.

"The recipients we are honoring today are New England's environmental heroes," said Robert W. Varney, regional administrator of EPA's New England office, at the awards ceremony in Boston May 1, when 35 projects from throughout New England received the Environmental Merit Awards.

Tufts' department of civil and environmental engineering has worked with a Bridgeport neighborhood to decide how best to use open space that is bordered by brownfields—former industrial land where redevelopment is complicated by environmental contamination.

When folks in Bridgeport's West End had an opportunity to expand Went Field Park, adjacent empty lots seems the most logical place to go. But creating a consensus for the lots' reuse posed a problem: Athletic groups wanted playing fields; residents wanted open space, and two public schools viewed the space as good areas for them. The Park City Brownfields Redevelopment Partnership was formed to bridge the gap and create a private/public partnership to facilitate the redevelopment process.

The partnership used EPA funds to implement the Sustainable Brownfields Redevelopment process to build consensus around the park expansion and overcome the roadblocks to redevelopment. Community efforts cleaned up the existing park, and neighborhood watch groups have improved park safety. The park will be completed by the end of summer.