Bloomington, Clarksville, and Union City will receive grants totaling $1.4 million to clean up contaminated properties. The Environmental Protection Agency said cleaning up so-called “brownfield sites” encourages development, promotes job growth, and raises property values.
The largest grant of $800,000 will go to the town of Clarksville near Louisville. Town Councilman A.D. Stonecipher said Clarksville plans to clean up properties along the Ohio River and that there’s already a consortium of investors interested in the land.
“Create a 400 acre public park that would also restore natural wetlands and woodlands along the river,” he said.
Bloomington and Union City will each receive $300,000 for brownfield cleanups. Bloomington plans to use its funds to investigate the environmental condition of properties between College and Walnut streets — which make up part of the city's downtown. Union City plans to clean up properties in its downtown as well between Pearl and Oak streets.
The Biden administration has made environmental justice a focus of the new EPA. Whether underserved communities will benefit from cleaning up these polluted properties depends on if they get a say in what new development moves in.
Join the conversation and sign up for the Indiana Two-Way. Text "Indiana" to 73224. Your comments and questions in response to our weekly text help us find the answers you need on COVID-19 and other statewide issues.
Sarah Cahillane lives near a few polluted sites in Bloomington’s Waterman neighborhood. She said the city does a good job of involving residents in development decisions, but it needs to reach out to lower-income residents — who are more likely to live near these sites — earlier.
“From the inception of a project to the end — not midway through after the idea has already been created," Cahillane said.
The EPA said more than 400 properties in Indiana have been investigated or cleaned up in the past five years allowing more than $430 million in new investment.
Indiana Environmental reporting is supported by the Environmental Resilience Institute, an Indiana University Grand Challenge project developing Indiana-specific projections and informed responses to problems of environmental change.