Wednesday, Nov. 10


City hears more on brownfield remediation opportunity     Send a link to a friend

[NOV. 10, 2004]  City aldermen began taking a closer look at an opportunity to clean up properties that have ground and soil contamination. Susan Davison from the Bureau of Land division of the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency was on hand at Tuesday's council workshop to explain how the state is helping. She confirmed information presented to the council several weeks ago and encouraged pursuit of what is commonly referred to as brownfield redevelopments.

The state of Illinois is offering these grants for a limited period of time in an effort to help communities. The reasons for doing this are threefold:

  1. Protect public health and the environment.
  2. Help the community get properties back on the tax rolls.
  3. Improve the quality of life.

The state offers up to $240,000 in 70-30 grants to municipalities. The municipalities choose the properties that will be served by this funding. They may be public or private properties.

The state covers 70 percent of the costs. The remaining 30 percent may be covered by in-kind services that the city provides during the process. The city engineers, street department, lawyer, clerks and other city workers will be heavily involved, supplying their time and skills, and with good bookkeeping, those documented costs will significantly affect the 30 percent match to be provided by the city.

The property owner may be asked to cover any shortages on the city's portion but will be kept informed of any expenses as the project proceeds. The property owner can also stop a project for any reason with no negative consequences at any given time. The goal is simply to get as many properties cleaned up as possible.

Davison explained that site remediation is a multistep process that takes time. Before any work begins, historical background is collected. Next soil and groundwater samples are gathered. Then a cleanup program is developed and remediation is planned, she said.

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Illinois currently has 98 sites being cleaned up under this grant program, Davison said. One-third of those sites are underground storage tanks. The project does not accept sites in need of asbestos or lead paint cleanup. Those are simply too intensive and costly to fit under this program, she said.

Aldermen were supplied with a list of local properties that have had EPA investigations. A number of properties on that list have not been closed out. It was noted that some of these are simply in a waiting period, and no further work needs to be performed toward remediation of the site.

While two property owners have already availed their properties of the process, buildings and grounds chairman Derrick Crane said that he would like to meet with his committee to review the list of properties on the list. Possibly the committee will contact some of the owners. He hopes that maybe some of those property owners will voluntarily come forward before his committee selects the first properties.

Lincoln and Logan County Development Partnership director Rob Orr, who introduced the opportunity a few weeks ago, was on hand to continue offering his support in the process. "I suggest you limit the number of startups, as it could be cumbersome starting," he said. You can add more later, he said. Many properties could be addressed during the three years the grant provides.

[Jan Youngquist]

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