GARY | A diverse group of partners gathered Tuesday to announce a grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to develop green stormwater management practices in Marquette Park.
"We're working together to ensure this is going to be here for generations to come," said Bill Hanna, president and CEO of the Regional Development Authority.
The $351,073 grant from the EPA's Great Lakes Restoration Initiative to the RDA follows a $1 million U.S. EPA dredging project currently under way in the Marquette Park Lagoons. The aim is to remove decades of sediment there. When that work is complete, 3,000 cubic yards of sediment will be removed, improving fish and wildlife habitats.
The lagoons are affected by sediment and nutrient runoff from the surrounding Miller neighborhood.
The project, which partners the EPA, RDA and Gary, is set to begin in March with job training for four individuals in the city's brownfields program.
"The brownfields project involves the training of local folks ready to go to work," Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson said. "I think the training coupled with the hands-on work experience will better prepare them for the workforce."
The Student Conservation Association of Pittsburgh will lead the training program. The group has worked locally with the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore and the Cook County Forest Preserve District.
Groundbreaking is expected April 1.
Partners in the project said the work will reduce the amount of stormwater going into the city's sewer system, thereby reducing costs for the city and its residents. The work also will improve the lagoons' water quality and reduce erosion.
Community outreach will help residents learn how to use rain barrels and plant rain gardens.
"That's good for the environment, but it's also good for the economy," said Susan Hedman, administrator for the U.S. EPA's Region 5 in Chicago. "This will help re-establish Marquette Park as one of the premier recreation destinations on Lake Michigan."