Redevelopment Activities Foster Intergovernmental Cooperation
Brownfields redevelopment is a cause that has pushed cities and counties to forge new bonds with other local governments, state departments, and federal agencies that they may never have considered before. Collaborative work allows cities to reap more than they have sown in human resources, financial aid, and technical assistance and holds promise for long-term regional approaches to policy implementation and problem solving.
Interagency and intergovernmental collaboration often present real and perceived problems. One challenge is the factor of fiscal agency: Who holds the grants or federal monies, and who decides how they are appropriated? Also, developing collaborative relationships requires time-intensive nurturing and careful communications at the beginning, before any results of the collaboration have been realized. In today's work culture of quick returns and immediate products, it is difficult to rationalize time spent on partnerships that may not show tangible results for years. Other potential problems with collaborations include differences in perceptions about the nature of the problems, or in opinions about whose resources should be used to address them.
Often, the only thing blocking two governments' working together is their lack of history of cooperation. Sometimes, this obstacle is accompanied by events or conditions that further distance governments from each other, such as competition for the same economic activities. Another potential challenge to forming partnerships arises when one entity has the authority to enact policies that the other is obliged to implement, as seen in a state's jurisdiction over a county or a county's over a city. Nonetheless, cities and counties are working to overcome these problems and are developing relationships that will carry them forward to other projects.
Kansas City--Kansas and Missouri
Kansas City's brownfields redevelopment is an example of amazing intergovernmental coordination. The project involves seven federal agencies, environmental agencies from two states, and various local government agencies from two counties and two cities. Kansas City, Kansas, and Kansas City, Missouri, manage to participate jointly in the brownfields program by taking advantage of their own and each other's strengths and resources, The program is administered through the Missouri city offices and relies on these staff members to do the majority of the work.
Kansas City, Missouri, has five times the population of its Kansas counterpart, as well as more resources to address brownfields issues. Also, Kansas City, Missouri, has been working in brownfields issues longer than the Kansas office. Kansas City, Kansas, sees its role as that of student to the Missouri office, learning everything it can about redevelopment strategies and economic activity. The Kansas office, however, offers several resources to the Missouri office. Kansas City, Kansas, has six Housing and Urban Development (HUD) professionals in its office and more expenence in applying for and receiving HUD and other monies from federal agencies for specific projects.
The cities have formed resolutions for a few projects and can see the potential for more initiatives. The biggest project has been a bi-state cultural tax that financed the redevelopment of Union Station, a historic train terminal in Kansas City, Missouri. Citizens from 11 regional counties in both states had to approve a tax to finance the work. The cities are also coordinating work on a series of trails that pass through historic and industrial areas.
Staffs are looking toward larger joint projects. One possible partnership may emerge to develop a site that exists on one side of the state border but for which the partner city has valuable resources, such as its workforce, to help in the redevelopment. In this case, both cities can participate in the incentives for redevelopment. These cities may also work together to clean areas that fall in both cities. …