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Institute For Environmental Negotiation Receives Grant To Assist With Elizabeth River Revitalization Initiative

December 17, 2004 --

The Elizabeth River is one of the busiest military and commercial ports in the world. But use of the river for such purposes hasn’t come without a cost. Today, the river is heavily polluted.

To help clean up it and other contaminated sites, the University of Virginia’s Institutefor Environmental Negotiation has received a two-year, $150,000 grant from the Andrus Family Fund to provide consensus-building and facilitation services for communities that are seeking to restore toxic sites.

The first project IEN will undertake is the Money Point Revitalization Initiative on the Elizabeth River, located in metropolitan Hampton Roads, Va. This collaborative revitalization effort will be carried out over a two-year period as a partnership of IEN, the Elizabeth River Project, and multiple public and private partners.

The Elizabeth River is identified as a toxic Region of Concern by the multistate Chesapeake Bay Program. Money Point is a 330-acre tract of land on the southern branch of the river. A fire and later creosote spill from wood treatment facilities have been linked to the river’s contamination. Studies of the river have shown high concentrations of the toxic pollutant polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH), low biodiversity and a high percentage of fish suffering from liver cancer, lesions, deformity and cataracts. Onshore testing also indicates the presence of creosote in sediment and ground water. 

Money Point is located in the larger South Norfolk-Portlock neighborhood of Chesapeake, and is comprised of a dozen industrially owned parcels and a residential population of 250 to 500 living in aging houses along streets approaching the industries.

Since 1996, the Elizabeth River Project, a community-based collaborative group, has been working with local, state and federal agencies to enlist community partners in voluntary action to address contamination in the offshore sediments at Money Point and to prevent recontamination from uplands. IEN, with the assistance of the Community Mediation Center of Southeastern Virginia, will work with the Elizabeth River Project, industrial landowners, residents, the City of Chesapeake, state and federal interests, civic groups and others to create a vision and goals for the environmental restoration and sustainable redevelopment of Money Point. This effort is intended to address offshore contamination and any potential sources of recontamination from the uplands. The collaborative planning processwill identify community priorities for restoring and conserving green space; for reducing risks to human health, as well as risks to the environment, recreation and economic prosperity; and for improving economic and ecological viability of Money Point through sustainable development practices.

The Money Point Revitalization Initiative will carry out the consensus-building effort by applying a framework articulated in the book “Managing Transitions: Making the Most of Change.” by William Bridges. The transitions framework focuses on losses that occur with significant change and the need to support people and organizations as they engage in new behaviors. In addition, the project will serve as a guide to explore research questions about the outcomes of community-based collaborative efforts with the Community-Based Collaboratives Research Consortium (www.cbcrc.org), a current IEN project . 

The Money Point revitalization effort will commence in January 2005 with the creation of a Money Point Task Force appointed by the Elizabeth River Project.  Concurrently, a remediation feasibility study will be conducted and a master plan developed that includes environmentally responsible redevelopment strategies. With support from the Andrus Family Fund, IEN has the opportunity to play a strong role for Money Point to serve as a model for other industrial areas that are poised for revitalization. 

About the Institute:

The Institute for Environmental Negotiation is affiliated with the University of Virginia School of Architecture’s Department of Urban and Environmental Planning. The Institute was formed in 1980 to provide mediation and consensus-building services to the public and private sectors concerning conflicts and policy choices about land use and the natural and built environment. More information may be found on the Institute’s Web site at: www.virginia.edu/ien.

Contact: Frank Dukes, (434) 924-2041

FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: Contact the Office of University Relations at (434) 924-7116. Television reporters should contact the TV News Office at (434) 924-7550.

SOURCE: U.Va. News Services

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