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The University of South Florida (USF) has lead the development of a Brownfields Area-Wide Plan for the University Area Community – a one-and-a-half-square mile bounded by E. Fletcher Ave., N. Nebraska Ave., E. Bearss Ave., and Bruce B. Downs Blvd. in Hillsborough County, Florida.
Utilizing a grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), this project focused on the University Area Community (UAC), a neighborhood located in unincorporated Hillsborough County on the northern edge of the City of Tampa, Florida. The area is mixed with residential and commercial properties, and contains numerous vacant lots, many of which are perceived by residents and organizations to be contaminated by environmental pollutants.
USF has engaged the community and other key stakeholders to develop a Brownfields Area-Wide Plan along with an implementation strategy for the neighborhood.
Approximately 11,000 residents live in this diverse community. The poverty rate in the target area (58 percent) is more than three times the county rate (18 percent) and almost six times the state rate (10 percent). The unemployment rate is 16 percent. Additionally, there is a higher proportion of residents 25 years and older with no high school education compared to county and state proportions.
The University Area Community encompasses approximately 1.35 miles west of the University of South Florida. Through its partnership with the University of South Florida and under funding from the FY2016 US EPA Brownfield Area Wide Planning Grant, the partnership has conducted several brownfield studies, including; a formal Brownfield Inventory, an Economic Market Study on the target area, a Community Health Impact Assessment, a Social Impact Assessment and a comprehensive University Area GIS based mapping project.
In addition, a series of brownfield workshops and community outreach events have been held in the target area. During these events, the partnership presented the findings of the brownfield inventory and subsequently, preliminary assessment data as it became available. Through community conversations, charrettes, block parties and other means of community engagement, community members ranked the identified brownfield sites by order of priority to be addressed within this project.