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Cities partner to clean up brownfields

Redeveloping brownfields is the aim of a partnership between the Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority and the cities of Gary, Hammond and East Chicago.

The RDA has committed $200,000 in matching funds to support grant applications to establish an Environmental Protection Agency Brownfields Assessment Program and Revolving Loan Fund.

Gary Environmental Affairs Coordinator Dorreen Carey said the grants would help the cities explore economic development opportunities for contaminated brownfield sites.

“It will be a good thing for the three communities and sort of allow us to look at big picture possibilities,” Carey said.

Gary plans to use the funds in determining whether sites are ready for investment opportunities and cleanups if necessary. There are numerous brownfields in Gary, including hundreds of abandoned gas station that need inspection, Carey said.

“People can borrow money to do a remediation project to bring that project to closure and get land ready for development,” Carey said.

Hammond Environmental Management Director Ron Novak said the EPA’s focus on regional projects contributed to the partnership.

“They are looking for regional cooperation,” Novak said. “If these are going to be the new standards by which these grants are judged either leave the playing field and say we’ll do it on our own or ... cooperate and share off of the new regulations.”

He expects to learn whether the communities received the grants in the spring.

“We really need it in Northwest Indiana,” Novak said.



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