Money will soon be available to study blighted sites in Starke County. Kankakee-Iroquois Regional Planning Commission Executive Director Edwin Buswell says the multi-county governmental service agency recently got a $500,000 Brownfield Assessment Program grant.
“A brownfield is any site that is undeveloped or underdeveloped because of the potential of contamination, so any site that nobody wants to develop because there might be some contamination on it. This will allow us to come in and do assessments of those sites to determine if there is actually any contamination, and if there is what type of contamination,” Buswell explained.
He says the grant is the first step toward cleaning up the properties identified. The assessment includes making cleanup plans if contamination is found on the site. Once the assessment is complete, local officials can apply for a grant from the EPA to actually do the cleanup work.
Buswell says public meetings will be scheduled soon to discuss the availability of funds. They can be used for public or private sites, however if the current owner is the one who is responsible for the contamination her or she cannot apply for funds. Buswell adds officials with the Starke County Economic Development Foundation have some sites in mind. KIRPC serves Starke, Pulaski, Jasper, Newton, White, Benton and Warren Counties.