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Bootcamp motivates Kentucky communities to revitalize brownfield sites

Bootcamp motivates Kentucky communities to revitalize brownfield sites

Bootcamp motivates Kentucky communities to revitalize brownfield sites

Registration is now open for the two-day Brownfield Bootcamp workshop, April 1-2, which gives participants the knowledge and tools to revitalize brownfield sites into thriving community assets.

Georgetown, Ky.—

Many Kentucky communities have abandoned or underutilized properties because either real or perceived contamination has impeded their expansion, reuse or redevelopment. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency refers to these properties as “brownfields,” estimating over 45,000 currently in the United States.

The April 1-2 Brownfield Bootcamp, a program initiative involving the UK Community and Economic Development Initiative of Kentucky (CEDIK), is now open for registration. Hosted by the Scott County extension office, the event has become a pivotal force in community redevelopment. This is particularly true in transforming underutilized or contaminated properties, mostly former industrial sites.

The two-day workshop gives participants the knowledge and tools to revitalize brownfield sites into thriving community assets. Central to its success is the emphasis on practical strategies for community engagement, funding acquisition and the navigation of regulatory landscapes, all within the context of sustainable environmental stewardship. 

This year, the first day introduces participants to fundamental concepts and strategies for community engagement and planning. Day two explores components of an EPA Brownfield proposal and what it takes to create a highly competitive application. 

A partnership between the University of Kentucky Martin-Gatton College of Agriculture, Food and Environment and the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet's Department for Environmental Protection (EEC), the project aims to increase awareness of available funding and assist communities in redeveloping brownfield sites.  

"This program provides expanded access to support, technical assistance and redevelopment coaching that underserved communities have long requested in their pursuits of redeveloping brownfield sites," said Shane Barton, CEDIK downtown revitalization program coordinator. 

Throughout the five-year partnership with ECC, CEDIK trains and supports local community planning, raising awareness about the brownfield program throughout the commonwealth. While also being available for technical assistance and future funding opportunities, CEDIK provides intensive coaching and support to a group of traditionally underserved communities through the Downtown Revitalization Program's Brownfield Community Assistance Program

“Almost every community has at least one building, no matter how big or small, that poses a significant redevelopment challenge,” Barton said. “Many Kentucky communities are burdened with underutilized or abandoned structures, and transforming these spaces necessitates additional investment, planning and creative solutions based on community needs and aspirations.” 

Local Community Applications: Hawesville, Ky 

Hawesville, Kentucky city administrator Jake Powers’ project embodies Brownfield Bootcamp’s impact on a local community. Through his participation in the bootcamp, Powers gained insights and strategies that he brought back to his community. Upon his return, he initiated a comprehensive effort to address the challenges of brownfield redevelopment.  

"The Bootcamp was a turning point for us," Powers said. "We came back not just with ideas, but with a concrete plan on how to breathe new life into our downtown's abandoned buildings. We realized early on that this wasn't just about cleaning up properties. It was about envisioning what our community could become." 

Following the bootcamp, Powers spearheaded several key initiatives that emphasized the workshop’s approach. One of the first steps was organizing a redevelopment planning process. 

Community leaders organized regional forums, allowing residents to voice their opinions and aspirations for Hawesville’s future. 

"We started documenting all the underutilized buildings in our downtown area,” Powers said. “It was important to know what we were dealing with. This inventory was a foundation for prioritizing redevelopment efforts and identifying potential projects that could significantly impact the community.” 

Powers and his team recognized the importance of engaging the youth in the redevelopment process. The outcomes of these initiatives have been notable. 

"We asked ourselves, 'If we want to create a place where young people would stay, what do they want us to do?' This led to the organization of a youth listening session this spring, a move that will provide valuable insights into the younger generation's desires and foster a sense of ownership and involvement among them. We've started seeing a shift in how our community views these abandoned spaces. They're no longer just eyesores; they're opportunities.” 

The Scott County Cooperative extension office is located at 1130 Cincinnati Rd., Georgetown, Ky 40324. 

For more information on the brownfield sites and the Brownfield Bootcamp, visit

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The Martin-Gatton College of Agriculture, Food and Environment is an Equal Opportunity Organization with respect to education and employment and authorization to provide research, education information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function without regard to economic or social status and will not discriminate on the basis of race, color, ethnic origin, national origin, creed, religion, political belief, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, pregnancy, marital status, genetic information, age, veteran status, physical or mental disability or reprisal or retaliation for prior civil rights activity. 

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