By Marissa Alter
ROCKFORD (WREX) - $750,000 is on the way to Rockford to help the city investigate possible environmental contamination and develop clean-up programs for old industrial sites. The money comes from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and makes up the total of two brownfield grants.
Rockford Planning Administrator Wayne Dust had the task of convincing the EPA Rockford needed this money over the hundreds of other cities who applied.
"We're not allowed to use maps or photographs or anything in these applications," Dust explains.
Instead, he had to describe in detail, the many old industrial sites around Rockford--ones that could be revitalized but sit vacant because of possible hazardous materials.
"It's a major issue for the city because we do have a lot of factories that were simply left behind, especially after the recession in the 1980s," Dust adds.
$400,000 of the EPA money is a community wide grant. Half goes to assessments at petroleum sites, like old gas stations. The other half goes to a variety of old industrial sites, such as by the old Ingersoll plant, the N. Madison area, downtown, and the Kishwaukee corridor.
"Brownfield sites are a major obstacle in redeveloping former industrial properties. This federal funding will greatly assist us in revitalizing our central city," Mayor Larry Morrissey says.
The other part of the EPA money is a site specific grant, dollars that will just focus on the 25 acre South Main rail yards. The city has a concept plan of what the area would be developed for.
"Probably the key thing is there has been the announcement for Amtrak, and one of the sites within that rail yard would be for the Amtrak station," says Dust. "There are a lot of environmental questions and potential environmental issues there."
The city hopes to start work on the sites as early as October.