Brownfield Renewal Magazine, a national publication featuring brownfields – contaminated properties poised for redevelopment – programs and projects, announced this week that its 2012 Person of the Year is Somerville Senior Planner, Steven Azar, who manages the City of Somerville’s Brownfields Program through the Economic Development Division of the Mayor’s Office of Strategic Planning and Community Development. Azar was selected from a pool of 23 nominees nationwide that included city mayors, chief executives and executive directors of brownfields programs across the country. The magazine honors one individual each year from the brownfield industry who has demonstrated the ability to innovate, collaborate across multiple industry disciplines, and capture a unique vision of how to effect real change and generate positive results.
“This is a tremendous honor, not only for me both personally and professionally, but also in terms of the recognition it brings to the City of Somerville and the work we all do to make this a great place to live, work, play and raise a family,” said Azar. “Brownfields often impose a financial hurdle that limits quality growth, as well as contributing negatively to the health and economy of a community. Fortunately, many of our sites are located adjacent to planned light-rail transit stations creating significant opportunity to Somerville and the Commonwealth. It has been a privilege, under Mayor Curtatone’s leadership, to partner with state and federal agencies that are willing to meet Somerville’s rapid momentum with funds necessary to achieve our goals.
”Steven is a tremendous asset to Somerville’s planning, environmental and economic development program,” said Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone. “We ‘re proud of him for winning this much-deserved recognition for his abilities. This award is a reminder that Somerville’s green, smart-growth, transit-oriented development agenda is helping us to attract some of the best young planning and project management talent in the country. In turn, that ability is helping us do a better job of making Somerville the best possible place to live, work and play.”
Steven Azar joined the City of Somerville in 2008 in OSPCD’s Economic Development Division, and currently manages Somerville’s Brownfield Program among other high profile economic development projects. One of the most visible is the 145-acre Assembly Square District that includes Federal Realty Investment Trust’s Assembly Row project. Through his efforts, Somerville has received 15 awards earmarked for the assessment, cleanup and/or redevelopment of brownfield sites since 2009. The six awards he brought to Somerville in 2012 alone totaled over $2 million. In 2010, his submission for an EPA Hazardous Substance Citywide Assessment Grant was selected by the EPA as a national model. Under his leadership, the City’s Brownfield Cleanup Revolving Loan Fund grew from $456,000 to more than $1.5 million, which assisted several projects move forward even in the face of the recent national recession.
Brownfield Renewal Magazine highlighted Azar’s work in Union Square, and particularly the North Prospect Block and the former Kiley Barrel Brownfield site (located at the intersection of Somerville Ave. and Prospect Street). Azar has captured and successfully leveraged millions in state and federal funds intended to jump-start the revitalization of Union Square by transforming key blighted sites into job- and tax-generating transit and pedestrian-oriented mixed-use projects adjacent to the corridor of the planned MBTA Green Line Extension.
For more information about Brownfield Renewal Magazine, and to view the full Winner’s Profile, visit http://www.brownfieldrenewal.com/poy-winners2012.html.