County To Continue Participation In Brownfield Coalition

October 24, 2023 at 7:56 p.m.

By DAVID L. SLONE Managing Editor

Kosciusko County Commissioners on Tuesday approved a letter of support for the county to continue to participate in a brownfield coalition through the Michiana Area Council of Government (MACOG).
There is no cost for the county to participate in the coalition, and the county will be able to sit in on the coalition and provide input.
Area Plan Director Matt Sandy explained, “As you know, in the past years Kosciusko County, through MACOG, has participated in the brownfield coalition, looking at different areas that need remediation or may have had some brownfield contamination or potential contamination sites. Through the coalition, it allows not just the county but any of our participating cities, any of our towns within the county” to take part.
In the past years, he said the county has seen a lot of good use come of it. He said Warsaw has used it a number of different times, and the town of Syracuse has used it for some sites.
“There’s a list of other towns that have some potential sites that may have contamination due to tanks, use, dumping, that type of thing,” Sandy said. “Where I think we have supported this in the past, and sat as a member, I think even more so with a lot of the revitalization stuff that we’ve been talking about recently, this could lend to that, trying to get the revitalization committee looking at some of these sites that just maybe they would be good for development or at least get off the tax rolls through remediation to and deeded over to the appropriate agency or not-for-profit agencies or even some of the municipalities that may be eligible.”
Leah Thill, MACOG director of sustainability, told the commissioners MACOG is applying for $1.5 million in federal funding.
“We currently have a grant of $500,000, but we’ve nearly spent all of that, so if there are some immediate needs we’re not able to help with that within the next year, but we hope to be awarded and continue the work that we’re doing in this county,” she said.
Commissioner Cary Groninger said he sits on the MACOG board and he knows that Thill has been “instrumental” in getting funds for the four-county region that includes Kosciusko County.
“So these are really helpful in trying to do that initial phase one, understand what the actual environmental impact or environmental liability might be on these projects,” Groninger said. “It doesn’t pay for any cleanup, but it gets it to where we know what they are to where we can help mitigate that for developers and/or property owners to be able to move forward with the cleanup of properties.”
He made a motion to approve the letter of support and his motion passed 3-0.
During a break in the commissioners’ meeting Tuesday, Thill said if they get the $1.5 million it will be used for brownfield assessments, developing an inventory and prioritizing that inventory of sites, as well as doing planning around how to clean the sites up to be reused.
“So those are any sites where there is a potential contamination or past use that we suspect there could be tanks in the ground, petroleum contamination, hazardous contamination. It doesn’t mean we will find a problem, it’s just that there’s a stigma or perception in the community and that’s why some site is probably in a developable location but is not put back into productive use,” she said.
On the former Arnolt Corp. site in Warsaw to help prepare that for the apartment building construction, Thill said they spent $100,000.
“While it (the $1.5 million) sounds like a lot of money, it will hopefully help with a dozen or more sites across the whole region, so that’s divided among our four-county area, but we are definitely prioritizing money for each county,” she said.
One brownfield site in Kosciusko County that keeps coming up over and over again is the Tinkey Oil site on West Market Street in Warsaw, Thill stated.
“Tinkey Oil, there was a fire there a number of years ago and it’s just been a concern every since that happened. Because it’s tax delinquent, the city’s not been able to get control of it, and we’re hoping to help be able to access the property and get a better understanding of what the current site conditions are after that fire,” she said.
The town in Kosciusko County that has benefitted the most from MACOG’s efforts on brownfields is Syracuse.
“So we assisted with some asbestos sampling at the former elementary school that’s now the apartment building,” she said. “We’ve also been helping out the Syracuse Turkey Creek Township Public Library to evaluate a site that they wanted to build on that, that we’ve found some tanks in the ground, so one of the things we are able to do is be able to take those tanks out with our money. Even though that might be considered cleanup, we are taking them out for the purposes of sampling underneath them to make sure there’s no contamination and we’ll be able to get rid of them at that time and make the site ready for the public library project if that moves forward.”
Explaining what a brownfield is, Thill said, “A brownfield is not any particular list of sites that any official government agency maintains. It is any site where there’s a perception or a stigma of potential environmental risk that is causing that site to not be developed. It is a barrier to redevelopment, that’s what a brownfield is.”
Anyone who would like more information about brownfields or what MACOG can do, they can contact Thill. MACOG’s website can be found at www.macog.com.

Kosciusko County Commissioners on Tuesday approved a letter of support for the county to continue to participate in a brownfield coalition through the Michiana Area Council of Government (MACOG).
There is no cost for the county to participate in the coalition, and the county will be able to sit in on the coalition and provide input.
Area Plan Director Matt Sandy explained, “As you know, in the past years Kosciusko County, through MACOG, has participated in the brownfield coalition, looking at different areas that need remediation or may have had some brownfield contamination or potential contamination sites. Through the coalition, it allows not just the county but any of our participating cities, any of our towns within the county” to take part.
In the past years, he said the county has seen a lot of good use come of it. He said Warsaw has used it a number of different times, and the town of Syracuse has used it for some sites.
“There’s a list of other towns that have some potential sites that may have contamination due to tanks, use, dumping, that type of thing,” Sandy said. “Where I think we have supported this in the past, and sat as a member, I think even more so with a lot of the revitalization stuff that we’ve been talking about recently, this could lend to that, trying to get the revitalization committee looking at some of these sites that just maybe they would be good for development or at least get off the tax rolls through remediation to and deeded over to the appropriate agency or not-for-profit agencies or even some of the municipalities that may be eligible.”
Leah Thill, MACOG director of sustainability, told the commissioners MACOG is applying for $1.5 million in federal funding.
“We currently have a grant of $500,000, but we’ve nearly spent all of that, so if there are some immediate needs we’re not able to help with that within the next year, but we hope to be awarded and continue the work that we’re doing in this county,” she said.
Commissioner Cary Groninger said he sits on the MACOG board and he knows that Thill has been “instrumental” in getting funds for the four-county region that includes Kosciusko County.
“So these are really helpful in trying to do that initial phase one, understand what the actual environmental impact or environmental liability might be on these projects,” Groninger said. “It doesn’t pay for any cleanup, but it gets it to where we know what they are to where we can help mitigate that for developers and/or property owners to be able to move forward with the cleanup of properties.”
He made a motion to approve the letter of support and his motion passed 3-0.
During a break in the commissioners’ meeting Tuesday, Thill said if they get the $1.5 million it will be used for brownfield assessments, developing an inventory and prioritizing that inventory of sites, as well as doing planning around how to clean the sites up to be reused.
“So those are any sites where there is a potential contamination or past use that we suspect there could be tanks in the ground, petroleum contamination, hazardous contamination. It doesn’t mean we will find a problem, it’s just that there’s a stigma or perception in the community and that’s why some site is probably in a developable location but is not put back into productive use,” she said.
On the former Arnolt Corp. site in Warsaw to help prepare that for the apartment building construction, Thill said they spent $100,000.
“While it (the $1.5 million) sounds like a lot of money, it will hopefully help with a dozen or more sites across the whole region, so that’s divided among our four-county area, but we are definitely prioritizing money for each county,” she said.
One brownfield site in Kosciusko County that keeps coming up over and over again is the Tinkey Oil site on West Market Street in Warsaw, Thill stated.
“Tinkey Oil, there was a fire there a number of years ago and it’s just been a concern every since that happened. Because it’s tax delinquent, the city’s not been able to get control of it, and we’re hoping to help be able to access the property and get a better understanding of what the current site conditions are after that fire,” she said.
The town in Kosciusko County that has benefitted the most from MACOG’s efforts on brownfields is Syracuse.
“So we assisted with some asbestos sampling at the former elementary school that’s now the apartment building,” she said. “We’ve also been helping out the Syracuse Turkey Creek Township Public Library to evaluate a site that they wanted to build on that, that we’ve found some tanks in the ground, so one of the things we are able to do is be able to take those tanks out with our money. Even though that might be considered cleanup, we are taking them out for the purposes of sampling underneath them to make sure there’s no contamination and we’ll be able to get rid of them at that time and make the site ready for the public library project if that moves forward.”
Explaining what a brownfield is, Thill said, “A brownfield is not any particular list of sites that any official government agency maintains. It is any site where there’s a perception or a stigma of potential environmental risk that is causing that site to not be developed. It is a barrier to redevelopment, that’s what a brownfield is.”
Anyone who would like more information about brownfields or what MACOG can do, they can contact Thill. MACOG’s website can be found at www.macog.com.

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