Shifting Sands: The Restoration of the Calumet Area

By Kenneth J. Schoon | Go to book overview

12
BROWNFIELDS RESTORED
TO USEFULNESS

BROWNFIELD REDEVELOPMENT

A brownfield is land that was previously used for commercial or (more likely) industrial purposes and is now the site of real or suspected contamination. Large brownfields may have been home to abandoned factories; a small brownfield may have once had a gas station. Many former brownfield sites remain vacant for decades, either because their locations are not desirable to new developers or because restoring them would cost more than the land would be worth after the work was done.

The reuse of brownfields has become both a national and a Calumet Area priority. Such reuse improves the environment and thus may prevent air and water contamination spread, eliminates a source of blight and therefore increases the value of neighboring properties, and helps prevent the unnecessary development of open spaces elsewhere.

In 1995 Congress established the EPAs Brownfields Program, which empowers communities and other stakeholders to collaborate in assessing, cleaning, and sustainably reusing brownfields. The program provides grant money for environmental training, assessment, and planning, and to capitalize loans in order to obtain funds to restore brownfields.1 It also empowers communities to address brownfields and think creatively about possible ways to reuse land.

The Indiana Brownfields Program was established in 1997. It offers educational, financial, legal, and technical aid and works with the EPA and the various stakeholders to assist Indiana communities in making their brownfields productive again. To date, the program has supported 729 projects, which have helped create 298 new businesses, retained 243 other businesses, created 14,169 new jobs, and retained 5,353 other jobs.2

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