Diving Headfirst into Brownfields

‘Diving Headfirst’ into Brownfields
By Steve Dwyer

In the past seven years, the city has used assessment grants to support ongoing cleanup effort and have secured six grants to support the cleanup of a sprawling parcel that’s been sub-divided into those nine unique redevelopment sites. “We looked very close at the overall River Race corridor, and were not interested in ‘one off’ developments. We have a bigger approach to redevelopment,” says Hershberger, who was raised in Goshen and attended Ball St. University.


Hershberger said the city invested approximately $800,000 local dollars in cleanup funds, but for every dollar spent, it was matched by $4 from other sources. For her clean sweep in obtaining funds—plus other accomplishments that preceded it—Hershberger was bestowed the Brownfields Recognition Award, which was announced at Brownfields 2013 in Atlanta. 


But, of course, the secret sauce of the grant skill proved to be a game-changer. How was her team able to demonstrate a strong argument in convincing authorities for the dollars? “We have to show the circumstances: we have had, at one time, the highest unemployment rate in the U.S., so there’s a lot of data to provide. We have a high Hispanic population base. We started our case showing them we had thought these facts through [from a demographic standpoint] and how these opportunities would surely benefit our community. We met all of our goals as we looked at what we were able to accomplish. It had not been a case of ‘pie in the sky’ promises made. We actually executed what we said we would. We were realistic and had a good understanding. This helped in our scoring and [the grant agencies] said, ‘I think they actually get it.’  


Hershberger told the Goshen News that “we were one of the first in the state to utilize so many different sources of funds to do the projects. For a couple of the projects we were pulling money out of three or four different sources, and it got a little chaotic, the tracking and just the implementation. And on top of that, we were learning along with the state on how they wanted to spend their money, so we had a lot of people to report to. So it was a challenge, but it was worth it, because with just local funds we never could have done what we did.”


“For Goshen, the work occurred through cooperative agreements, also often referred to as grants. Goshen was selected this round because they successfully and consistently leverage wastewater and drinking water state revolving funds to address brownfields. Goshen is a model for other states because of this.”

For Hershberger, the quest for excellence is demonstrated by two working axioms: Brownfield is not a dirty word anymore in Goshen. And, with grant proposals, “she gets it.”

(click here to read the full article from Brownfield Renewal)