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Valpo, Portage, Lake Station seek federal brownfield funds

VALPARAISO — To clean up possible contaminated land in the city, the Valparaiso Redevelopment Commission is teaming up with Portage and Lake Station to apply for a federal grant.

The Redevelopment Commission on Wednesday approved allowing Bruce Carter Associates Environmental Consulting of Indiana to apply for the grants with Valparaiso as the principal and doing much of the work.

The grant is for $600,000 and would be split as the coalition decides, but teaming up for it gives the cities an advantage in getting the grant.

“The EPA has set aside more grant funds for coalitions,” Commission Executive Director Stu Summers said.

Indiana gets about eight of the federal grants a year.

The money can be used to fund matching grants for cleanup of what are designated “brownfields,” said Joel Markland of Bruce Carter Associates.

Markland said he would be handling the application process for free as a “loss leader” in hopes that knowing the municipalities and having an edge when bidding on using the grant.

The grant is for initial assessment of the possible brownfields in town. For the grant application, they identified three possible sites in Valparaiso. Summers said they are mostly old gas station sites that tend to be common in Midwestern towns, usually having been once on the municipalities’ edges.

“I don’t know of a superfund site in the city,” Summers said.

The city already did brownfield testing where Central Plaza Park was built on the old Sinclair station.

The initial identified spots for the grant are the former gas station next to the dry cleaners at Lincolnway and Campbell Street, the fireworks stand on U.S. 30 that was a gas station and a former gas station on Lincolnway.

If the cities get the grant, the next step would be to identify as many brownfields as possible.

If the landowners allow the city to test, the first phase is to look at the land history, Markland said. The second is to take soil samples and test them for contamination, and then cleanup can begin.

For large problems, the city can apply for more grants, Markland said.

The grant should be awarded by spring, Summers said.



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