VALPARAISO | The city is working with Lake Station and Portage to apply for a $600,000 federal grant to check all three for potential brownfield sites.
Valparaiso's Redevelopment Commission approved a resolution Wednesday to seek the grant after hearing a presentation by Joel Markland of the consulting firm Bruce Carter Associates. The company would be allowed to bid on doing the actual study of the three communities. Markland was also to speak to Portage officials Wednesday.
The deadline for applying for the grant is less than two weeks away, and the city would not know until next spring or summer if the application is approved, the commission's Executive Director Stuart Summers said. Summers said Indiana typically receives about eight such grants a year, and the money would be available Oct. 1, 2013.
The three cities would decide amongst themselves how the money would be split, but applications involving cooperative ventures have a higher probability of being approved, Markland said. The cities would have three years to spend the funds unless it could get a one-year extension because of unusual circumstances preventing the use within the three years.
If approved, the money would be used to hire a consultant to make a list of potentially contaminated sites within all three by examining Indiana Department of Environmental Management files. The consultant would then go to the property owners to see if they'd like to have the sites studied to see if they are contaminated.
The next step would be to test the sites agreed to by the owners and then look for possible funding sources for cleaning contamination so the sites can be redeveloped. None of the original grant can be used for cleanup, but Summers said several sources are possible, including insurance companies, the federal Superfund cash from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Indiana Finance Authority.
Summers said former gas station sites at Campbell Street and Lincolnway and on Calumet could be examined along with the fireworks store on U.S. 30. Valparaiso's Redevelopment Commission would serve as the lead agency on the application and administer the funds.
Markland said the return on the EPA investment to clean up sites has been about $10 in private investment for every EPA dollar as well as the advantages of removing a blighted location, creating jobs and increasing the tax base.