JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Nandra Weeks, PE, stepped in as the new President of the Florida Brownfields Association (FBA) this week at their annual conference held at St. Pete Beach, Florida. Nandra has been active in the FBA, serving in many roles such as Secretary, Treasurer, as well as President-Elect for the past year.
The FBA is a non-profit, volunteer, service organization dedicated to assisting in the advancement and implementation of the Florida and National Brownfields Redevelopment programs. Working in cooperation with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP), the FBA is an assembly of environmental specialists and professionals who provide Brownfields information and redevelopment strategies to communities and the public at-large in the interest of cleaning up contaminated properties and revitalizing areas that have been subject to economic decline. In the opinion of Alan Farmer, Deputy Assistant Regional Administrator USEPA Region 4 , the FBA is one of the most highly respected (if not the most respected) state brownfields organizations with its more than 340 members statewide.
A fitting place for talking about Brownfields, highly urbanized Pinellas County has been a pioneer in the practice where environmentally-impacted areas are rehabilitated for use as such as parks and housing. Nandra feels the beauty of reclaiming these impacted zones is that it allows for a renewal of economically troubled areas that frequently are in the center of towns. "We're trying to encourage growth in urban areas where we can walk to work and play in our community and not have to use so much gas to travel from these outlying suburban areas into the city to work". The conference featured over 40 exhibitors, 17 technical sessions, and over 300 attendees. Officials from the Environmental Protection Agencies spoke at the conference touting federal grants that are available. Since 1995, Florida cities have received nearly 20 million dollars in grants to rehabilitate brownfields sites.