Community Dispute Resolution Role-Play:

East Falls Brownfields

Tracy Dyke, under the direction of Lawrence Susskind and Susan Podziba

Seven-person, non-scoreable, facilitated negotiation among planners, regulators and activists regarding the cleanup and redevelopment of environmentally contaminated property

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SCENARIO:

East Falls Brownfields is a nonscorable facilitated negotiation among six planners, regulators, and community activists regarding the cleanup and redevelopment of environmentally contaminated property.

The negotiation takes place in East Falls, an old industrial city with a shrinking population and tax base. The Monroe Industries site, an abandoned 15-acre parcel of land contaminated with machine oils, solvents, asbestos, and heavy metals, is a potential danger to the neighborhood. In addition, the condition of the property is discouraging investment in the neighborhood. Residents are very concerned about environmental health threats. The city has brought in an outside developer who is willing to consider redeveloping the site if this can be made financially viable.

The city, the developer, two citizens' groups, an environmental health expert, and a representative from the local business community have gathered to try to agree on a redevelopment plan for the property. Everyone believes that redeveloping the property would be a good idea, but there is no agreement on the specifics of the plan. The parties are trying to reach consensus on what will be built on the property, what type of environmental remediation will occur, how much public assistance will be provided to the developer, and to what extent the developer and the citizens groups will cooperate as the project moves forward.

 

TEACHING POINTS:

  • Redeveloping brownfields typically requires a negotiation among many different stakeholders.
  • The mutual gains approach to negotiation that stresses ‘all-gain’ solutions, rather than win-lose solutions, is likely to be the most effective way to handle brownfields negotiations.
  • Through a process of joint problem solving, it is possible to balance the competing interests of contending stakeholders.
  • Good information is crucial to making intelligent trade-offs in the course of negotiating brownfields redevelopment plans.
  • Trade-offs between cost and risk, as well as between risk and benefit, can be handled most effectively in a consensus-building fashion.
  • Successful consensus building requires the right kind of forum, with the right kind of ground rules, designed jointly by all stakeholders.
  • One of the reasons that brownfields redevelopment negotiations are often difficult is that values, not just interests, are at stake.
  • Community involvement in brownfields redevelopment produces a better ‘product’ with few delays.

 

TEACHING MATERIALS:

General Instructions for all parties:

Confidential Instructions for:

  • President of LandCycle Inc., potential developer of the Monroe Industries site
  • City Planning Director
  • Vice President of East Falls Bank & Trust and Vice Chair of the Chamber of Commerce
  • Director of Citizens for Justice in East Falls (CJEF)
  • Director of East Falls Economic Future (EFEF)
  • Professor of Environmental Health at East Falls Community College, and Technical Advisor to the Task Force
  • Facilitator

 

Teacher's Package includes:

  • All of the above
  • Teaching notes

East Falls Brownfields Attributes

Time required: 2-3 hours
Number of participants: 7
Teams involved: No
Agent present: None
Neutral third party present: Facilitator
Scoreable: No
Teaching notes available: Yes