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City: EPA freeze won't affect $200K grant already awarded for old RCA plant at Sherman Park

City: EPA freeze won't affect $200K grant already awarded for old RCA plant at Sherman Park
Posted at 1:06 PM, Jan 25, 2017

INDIANAPOLIS -- A freeze on grants and contracts at the Environmental Protection Agency ordered by President Donald Trump won't impact a $200,000 grant already awarded for cleanup at the old east side RCA plant site, the city of Indianapolis says.

The Washington Post reported Tuesday that an email went out to EPA employees shortly after the inauguration Friday asking that "all contract and grant awards be temporarily suspended, effective immediately."

Mayor Joe Hogsett's office said Wednesday morning that the city was unsure at that point how the freeze would affect grants already awarded to Indianapolis, particularly a $200,000 Brownfield grant awarded for cleanup and redevelopment efforts at the former RCA/Thomson plant site at Sherman Park on the Near Eastside.

PHOTO GALLERY | Abandoned east side RCA/Thomson plant on brink of demolition

By Wednesday afternoon, though, the Department of Metropolitan Development (DMD) said it had heard from the EPA that it should continue managing grants as usual.

"Upon learning of the freeze imposed on grants and contracts by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the City’s Department of Metropolitan Development contacted the EPA to inquire about how this freeze could impact previously-awarded grants, such as the Area-Wide Planning grant for Sherman Park," Lindsey Richardt, chief communications officer for the DMD said in a written statement. "The DMD Brownfields team was instructed by our EPA Project Officer to continue managing existing grants as usual. DMD, in partnership with NEAR and neighborhood stakeholders, will continue our area-wide planning efforts unless notified otherwise."

On Monday, the city of Indianapolis began demolishing the remaining structures on the site. A spokesman for Mayor Joe Hogsett's office said even if the freeze had affected the Brownfield grant, it would not have impacted demolition, since that is being funded by a Community Development BLOCK Grant from the Department for Housing and Urban Development, in addition to funds from the Indianapolis Department of Metropolitan Development.

Once demolition is complete, the non-profit Near East Area Renewal (NEAR) plans to use the $200,000 grant for redevelopment planning.

"This kind of grant is essential for taking blighted properties and turning them into something safe for the community and employees," said NEAR Executive Director John Franklin Hay.

The site is one of three leading contenders for the proposed new Marion County Criminal Justice Center, along with the former Citizens Energy coke plant in the Twin Aire Neighborhood and a third site near the Indianapolis International Airport.

READ MORE | Near Eastside sees risk, opportunity in new justice center