On February 15, a group of DCP graduate students presented their conceptual ideas on how to redevelop the Cabot/Koppers Superfund site to the Gainesville City Commission.
The Cabot/Koppers Superfund site, located in northwest Gainesville, has been on the EPA National Priority List since 1984. The site has been undergoing remediation for the past few decades due to contaminated soil and groundwater caused by wood pole processing facilities.
The presentation was the continuation of a project from a graduate studio taught in the Fall 2017 semester by Ruth Steiner, urban and regional planning professor and director of the Center for Health and the Built Environment, and Ilir Bejleri, urban and regional planning associate professor.
Christopher Yanes, M.Arch and MURP student, is furthering this project as part of his thesis by connecting the Cabot and Koppers sites with a street or trail, developing bike trails and creating more park space.
The class project was a 16-week long process in which students conducted background inventory and precedence research and created individual and group concepts which were presented to community members in December and the City of Gainesville in February, Yanes said.
“They (city commissioners) were relieved to see some design concepts because they know it’s getting closer now,” Yanes said. “We’re kind of within a two- to four-year range in which construction and design might actually start on the site, so they were very excited.”
Mariana Arias-Sanz, second-year MURP student, and her team envisioned a student arts district for the site. Their idea included art projects and incubator spaces for restaurants so the site could become a larger cultural center.
“I really appreciated their (city commissioners’) feedback,” Arias-Sanz said. “I really had a good time presenting to them what we had come up with and trying to generate ideas for actual developments in the future.”
The project allowed students to learn by doing and gave them practice for real-world situations, Steiner said.
“This was a really good example of collaboration between the city, private developers and owners of the property, neighborhood residents and the students,” Steiner said.
Steiner said there may be opportunities for students to continue getting involved with Cabot/Koppers through individual projects, including undergraduate capstones or graduate theses.