June 25, 2008

Plainfield Awarded Grant for Landfill Clean Up

By Kevin Leibrock, Hendricks County Flyer, Avon, Ind.

Jun. 25--PLAINFIELD -- For 30 years, the former site of the Shouse Landfill here near the Plainfield Recreation and Aquatic Center has sat unused.

That's about to change.

The site took another step toward redevelopment last week when the Town of Plainfield was awarded with a $400,000 grant by the Indiana Finance Authority as part of the Indiana Brownfields Program.

Gov. Mitch Daniels set up the program as a way to encourage the redevelopment of abandoned or underused commercial and industrial property.

The purpose of the grant is to clean up the 13-acre site between Pike Lane and White Lick Creek, making sure that no environmental hazards remain for a potential redevelopment project.

Like any other public works project, contractors will publicly bid to perform the actual clean up.

"This grant really helps us to continue the positive momentum on this project," Plainfield Town Engineer Tim Belcher said. "These funds are meant to get the site to the point where we all can be sure that there won't be any problems environmentally. The funds aren't for building recreational facilities."

The IFA's financial support for the Shouse Landfill brings Plainfield's total amount of grant money received in 2008 to more than $2 million. The town's previous grants include $1.2 million from the Department of Homeland Security to hire new firefighters and a $500,000 Department of Natural Resources trail grant.

"As with any grant program, I'm sure they probably had more requests than funds available," Belcher said. "We were lucky enough to be chosen. It could have something to do with the grants we were previously awarded."

Ten projects -- including Plainfield's Shouse Landfill -- applied to the IFA requesting a total of $2.5 million of the $1.5 million available. Each project is ranked and scored by the IFA and the Shouse Landfill ranked second out of the 10, receiving the maximum allowed grant of $400,000.

"It's a pretty competitive process," said Jim McGoff, director of environmental programs for the IFA. "They (Plainfield) received the maximum award they could and they proved to us that they, in fact, needed that."

Belcher said work has begun on testing the site of the former landfill, which was privately owned before being acquired by the town in May of 2006. Ground water and soil on the site are being checked for environmental contaminants.

"The only environmental hazard that has been reported so far is just typical residential trash," Belcher said. "There's obviously things in there you don't want to come in contact with in any kind of trash dump like paints, metals, glass, paper, and plastics. In terms of chemical compounds, we haven't found anything of an unusual nature."

Calvin Kelly, director of environmental services for the Schneider Corporation has been heavily involved in the testing as the site's project manager.

"We have been encouraged by the results of our testing," Kelly said. "We have found a limited number of different compounds, and the concentrations of those compounds have not been at levels over certain benchmark thresholds that we must be immediately concerned with."

As for the future of the site, Belcher said any redevelopment proposal would have to be approved by the town council. He said it will be developed for public use, and presented a concept plan that included a dog park, picnic structure, and golf skills course -- meant for practicing short golf shots such as chipping and putting.

The Town of Plainfield's website has a survey in which residents can vote for the best use of the former landfill -- whether it be for trails, picnic areas, a golf skills course, a dog park, or a multi-use ice skating and roller hockey rink.

Belcher said progress is being made on the site, but construction on a recreational facility is not yet imminent.

"We really don't have a timetable yet," Belcher said. "I've found that the wheels of the environmental laws turn pretty slowly in terms of testing and reviewing. Maybe by the end of this year we would have this remediation work done so we could do phase one of a town council approved project."

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