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Kirk Touts Brownfields as Key Part of "New Agenda for American Cities"
Dallas Mayor Hosts National "Brownfields '99" Conference

By Kevin McCarty

Dallas Mayor Ronald Kirk delivered the message on behalf of the nation's mayors December 6 that brownfields redevelopment is a critical part of a "New Agenda for American Cities." His remarks were made at the opening session of the "Brownfields '99" Conference in Dallas.

Kirk, a member of the Conference's Advisory Board who also chairs the Urban Economic Committee, made his remarks before the more than 2,000 conference participants during the opening session of the three-day conference. Joining with Mayor Kirk at this session were U.S. EPA Administrator Carol Browner and U.S. HUD Deputy Secretary Saul Ramirez.

Speaking on behalf of Conference President and Denver Mayor Wellington E. Webb," Kirk said, "There are cities like Dallas, all over this nation, that are challenged to take advantage of every resource we have available. We don't have the luxury to write off huge chunks of real estate, and let business go to greener pastures and take up valuable farmland," Kirk said.

Kirk explained the ten elements of the "New Agenda for American Cities" that was set forth by Conference President Webb in a speech last month before the National Press Club in Washington, DC. "First of all, we ought to make government more responsive to local priorities and metro economies;If more than 80 percent of our nation's gross domestic product is being produced in the top 300 plus metropolitan areas around this country, perhaps we need to make sure we work more closely with our nation's mayors," Kirk said.

"Secondly, we want to make sure we continue to make our cities safe. I can clean up everything in the world, we can go through and save all the brownfields and do that, but if ; the cities and in particular, core inner-cities are not as safe as other communities, then we still lose that in that important battle for jobs and families," he said.

Kirk focused on public education, the third element of this new agenda. "There is probably nothing that challenges the future of our country anymore than the issue of what to do about urban education;Probably the single, greatest factor driving a family's decision as to where to live is 'where am I going to put my kids in school?';If we are going to save America's urban schools and the majority of our workforce, we're going to have to restore our land, and bring those families and bring those jobs back into our communities. We want to work with our leaders in Washington to make sure that we do that," Kirk said.

He summarized the remaining parts of the agenda, discussing America's affordable housing crisis, the need to promote arts, culture and sporting amenities, tax cuts for challenged neighborhoods and working families, smart growth, a competitive work force, modernize our infrastructure, and better access to affordable health care.

Kirk was among several mayors who participated in the Dallas "Brownfields '99" Conference, the fourth such national gathering that was first convened by U.S. EPA. The Conference of Mayors joined with other organizations to sponsor this conference for local, state and federal environmental and economic development leaders. Following this article are summaries of the presentations by the other mayors taking part in "Brownfields '99."

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