Chesterton Tribune

Brickyard development to be delayed at least a year for environmental tests

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Any work on the Brickyard parcel will have to wait at least one year, Porter Town Council president Greg Stinson announced Tuesday.

That’s because the Indiana Department of Environmental Management is standing firm on its request that the town install monitoring wells in several locations at the Brickyard to sample groundwater there for four consecutive quarters.

IDEM project manager Aunna Huber communicated the agency’s decision in a Feb. 8 letter to the town. She said the 12-month monitoring results will be more accurate and more reliable than “grab” samplings from temporary wells.

The Porter Redevelopment Commission in 2009 bought the Brickyard parcel as a future residential/commercial extension of Porter’s downtown.

Weaver Boos consultants, retained by the RDC to study the environmental status of the Brickyard, last year told IDEM there was no need for permanent groundwater monitoring wells although the firm did agree additional site testing should be done.

Soil and water testing done in 2009 and 2011 showed contamination, likely from an historic former brick-making operation and rail spur on the southern portion of the Brickyard parcel, which is located at the southwest corner of Beam Street and Sexton Avenue.

The RDC paid $350,000 for the Brickyard and was courting developers of senior-living facilities to complement the single-family, townhome and neighborhood-commercial uses tentatively planned there when IDEM became aware that the initial environmental testing had raised questions that remained unanswered.

According to IDEM, last year Weaver Boos maintained future Brickyard uses are unknown since current economic conditions make it difficult to predict how the land will be redeveloped. If that’s the case, said Huber, IDEM can’t assess potential risks arising from unknown activities/land uses so the tougher residential standards should apply to the property.

The Brickyard contains approximately 32 acres in two parcels, the smaller western one eyed for a future Porter fire station and municipal uses. The area under IDEM review is the forested 24-acre portion northwest of Sexton Avenue and Lincoln Street.

Because clay was dug out there to make turn-of-the-century bricks, the elevation drops considerably on the site in some areas. Huber said, “(I)t must be demonstrated that planned grade modifications result in surface soil contaminant levels that are protective of human health for the intended use of a given area.”

IDEM wants the town to submit within 60 days the additional risk-assessment information and schedule the agency seeks. The current RDC will discuss the matter at its Feb. 28 meeting.

Stinson said a copy of IDEM’s Feb. 8 letter is available for inspection at the town hall and also will be made available by week’s end at the Redevelopment Commission link on the Town of Porter website.


 Posted 2/15/2012