IDENTIFYING BROWNFIELD SITES: Coalition to use EPA grant to conduct assessments
COLUMBIA CITY — The Northeast Indiana Brownfield Coalition, which recently received a $909,303 grant from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), plans to use some of the grant money for assessment of brownfield sites in Whitley County.“The intent here is to get the ball rolling and to identify the potential brownfield sites,” said Executive Director of Region III-A, Loren Kravig.According to Region III-A Technical Services Director Dave Gee, the coalition, including Region III-A and the Northeastern Indiana Regional Coordinating Council (NIRCC), is comprised of seven area counties including the following: Adams, Allen, excluding Fort Wayne, LaGrange, Noble, Steuben, Wells and Whitley, excluding Columbia City. According to Gee, the coalition’s overall goal is to promote economic development.“A brownfield has been defined as a parcel of real estate that is abandoned, inactive or under-utilized and on which expansion or redevelopment is complicated because of the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, a contaminant, petroleum or petroleum product that poses a risk to human health or the environment,” said Gee in a press release. “These properties are likely not generating optimum income for their owners, but are still costing the owner in the form of taxes, maintenance and the like. Our goal is to help these sites become more viable for economic growth.”The Northeast Indiana Brownfield Coalition will be working closely with the Whitley County EDC.“We are in the early stages of working with Region III-A to identify potential buildings to include in the project,” said Alan Tio, president of the Whitley County EDC. “Our first step is to reach out to building owners of buildings that may be appropriate to include in this project. The EPA grant will support the costs of environmental assessments, but will not include remediation expenses.”According to a press release, the Northeast Indiana Brownfield Coalition is seeking properties to be assessed, and an information brochure providing information on the coalition can be downloaded at www.region3a.org and www.nircc.com. For more information on properties located in LaGrange, Noble, Steuben and Whitley, contact Dave Gee with Region III-A at 347-4714.