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EPA honors five Great Lakes communities for Brownfields efforts

Release Date: 11/13/2006
Contact Information: Mick Hans, (312) 353-5050,

CHICAGO (Nov. 13, 2006 )- U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 5 today recognized five communities in the Great Lakes states and the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency for successful efforts to transform once-blighted properties into productive economic assets.

Six certificates of appreciation were awarded by Region 5 Administrator Mary Gade at the 2006 National Brownfields Conference in Boston. Awardees include: Lacon, Ill.; New Albany, Ind.; Detroit, Mich.'s Focus: HOPE Revitalization; Moorhead, Minn.; Springfield, Ohio; and the MPCA.

The honored projects include:

Lacon, Ill. The Grieves Woolen Mill operated from the 1860s through the late 1960s. Later, a farm equipment dealer occupied the site into the 1980s. The property then fell into disrepair before being acquired by the city in 1994. A $200,000 EPA assessment grant in 1999 helped determine the extent of site hazards, with the contaminated soil then removed and replaced by an engineered barrier of clean soil over the entire site. Today, the property is part of a new city park along the Illinois River and construction of an adjacent riverfront condominium complex is under way. [Local contact: Mayor Michael Heill, (309) 246-6111.]

New Albany, Ind. An abandoned downtown industrial site at various times contained a foundry, a machine shop and an auto repair business. After performing a series of site assessments funded in part by the Indiana Department of Environmental Management, the city received a $400,000 Brownfields cleanup grant from EPA in 2004. A new YMCA will soon occupy part of the site, with a hotel and apartment complex slated to begin construction on the other half of the property in 2007. [Local contact: Mayor James E. Garner, (812) 948-5333.]

Focus HOPE: Revitalization, Detroit, Mich. Local nonprofit Focus: HOPE has been a leader in using Brownfields resources to prioritize reuse and recycling of construction debris. With a $200,000 Brownfields cleanup grant awarded in 2003 and a $350,000 loan from Detroit's EPA-funded revolving loan fund, the group tore down an abandoned factory next to the Yellow Pages Building, a local landmark. More than 700 tons of steel, 3,800 cubic yards of demolition debris and 1,700 cubic yards of concrete were recycled. Work on the renovation will continue in 2007, with plans to establish a conference center, housing and retail space. [Local contact: Kathy Moran, Focus: HOPE Revitalization, (313) 494-4423.]

Moorhead, Minn. The central city corridor, which lies along the Red River of the North, contained aging and abandoned businesses, scattered debris, leaking storage tanks and contaminated soil. A $400,000 EPA assessment grant awarded in 2004 helped focus local priorities. Today, the area has been enhanced with a riverfront plaza and trails, 100 new housing units and 37,000 square feet of new commercial space. [Local contact: Bruce Messalt, City Manager, (218) 299-5314.]

Springfield, Ohio. The central city area, which includes an abandoned door and window manufacturer, had been in decline since the mid-1980s. Two hospitals, teaming with state and local agencies and supported by $2.3 million in EPA Brownfields grants, joined together to build a $7 million cancer treatment center. More recently, local foundations and community partners provided an additional $3.5 million to fund historical architectural detail honoring Springfield's industrial past and an outdoor nature area. [Local contact: Matthew Kridler, City Manager, (937) 324-7300.]

MPCA, St. Paul, Minn. In a creative example of tapping EPA resources to tackle a growing social problem, MPCA utilized federal Brownfields funds to address illegal methamphetamine laboratories. Working with the Minnesota Department of Health, MPCA assessed and revised its standard meth lab cleanup techniques to make sure these illicit labs could be cleaned to a level where they are once again safe for residential housing. [Local contact: Stephen Lee, MPCA Remediation Division, (651) 297-8610.]

Since 1992, more than $230 million has been awarded to Region 5 states (Ill., Ind., Mich., Minn., Ohio and Wis.), communities, tribes, nonprofits and intergovernmental consortiums for brownfield assessment and redevelopment, job training, and locally managed loan programs. Nearly $1.9 million in redevelopment resources has been leveraged by these projects, with more than 5,000 acres made ready for reuse. See more information about the EPA Region 5 Brownfields program at

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