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New EPA grant will help keep Marquette Park lagoon clean

Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wils(from left) Susan Hedman EPA Regi5 Administrator GreLakes National Program Manager Bill HannPresident CEO RDA talk during

Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson, (from left) Susan Hedman, EPA Region 5 Administrator and Great Lakes National Program Manager, and Bill Hanna, President and CEO of the RDA, talk during a press conference at Marquette Park Pavilion announcing the RDA received a $351,073 EPA grant for storm water management around the Marquette Park lagoon in the Miller section of Gary, Ind. Tuesday January 29, 2013. | Stephanie Dowell~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: March 2, 2013 6:52AM



GARY — A new $350,000 grant from the U.S. EPA will put a handful of people to work, and it will help keep the Marquette Park lagoon and other bodies of water clean.

In the lower lounge of the newly renovated Marquette Park Pavilion, EPA administrator Susan Hedman said the Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority’s application on behalf of Gary for the grant money won because of promised results and a focus on education.

“The work we’re doing here will help restore Marquette Park as one of the premiere destinations on Lake Michigan,” Hedman said.

The grant program, the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, is competitive, and about $30 million was awarded throughout the Great Lakes region, she added. The RDA will funnel the new grant directly to the city to be used for a variety of storm water management projects.

A few hundred feet away, crews continued dredging a variety of sediment from the lagoon, part of a $1 million EPA grant awarded to the RDA, on Gary’s behalf, last year.

With the $350,000, Ted Miller, of the Student Conservation Alliance, said four Gary residents in the city’s brownfield training program and one SCA member will earn $200 a week, a housing stipend of $600 each and the chance to win an AmeriCorps education award of $2,000 to $3,000 in the “internship” program.

The idea is to build natural obstacles to keep sediment from residents’ properties and the surrounding area from returning to the lagoon and contaminating it again, and educating residents on their part, Miller explained.

The new grant money will go toward building rain gardens, bio swales, which Miller described as “fancy rain gardens,” rain barrels for residents and a public education campaign on how storm water moves into the lagoon.

Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson and RDA Executive Director Bill Hannah praised the announcement as another example of “wonderful partnerships” between the federal government, state agencies and municipalities.

For Lauren Riga, head of the Gary’s Green Urbanism Department, projects like building up natural landscaping to filter sediment from rain run off out of the lagoon is part beefing up the city’s environmental sustainability efforts.

“This is one way of educating the public and doing direct implementation of our green infrastructure plans,” Riga said. “It means implementing up to 30 individual projects around the lagoon and the surrounding area.”



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