MUNCIE, IN – Kitselman Pure Energy Park (KPEP, LLC) and Muncie Action Plan (MAP) hosted a panel discussion Nov. 22 with MAP’s Neighborhood Presidents Council leaders, Eastside residents, and local and city leaders to discuss the development of the old Indiana Steel & Wire (IS&W) property. The purpose of the meeting was to address information deficits and concerns Muncie residents have about the brownfield property development.
A panel of environmental experts joined Gary Dannar, an investor with KPEP and CEO of DD DANNAR, LLC, to address misinformation and apprehensions of residents. The panel included: Ron St. John, a hydrogeologist with St. John-Mittelhauser & Associates (SMA), along with John Kyle, an environmental attorney with Barnes & Thornburg, LLC, representing General Cable. Also participating was Phil Tevis, founder of FlatLand Resources and project manager of the Kitselman Gateway project that will be developed near the IS&W property.
Those in attendance for the meeting included Mayor Dennis Tyler and State Representative Sue Errington, along with MAP Board Co-Chairs Donna Browne and Dr. George Branam. Also attending were MAP Board Members John Craddock (Director Emeritus, Bureau of Water Quality), Marta Moody (Metropolitan Planning Commission), Frank Scott, Sr. (President, Whitely Community Council), Cornelius Dollison (former President, Whitely Community Council) and Michael Wolfe (Sustainable Muncie, VP/CTO of Ontario Systems, Founder/President of Farmished). In addition, city-wide neighborhood leaders and representatives from the Eastside neighborhood were also in attendance.
Eastside residents have expressed concerns about residential development on the formerly contaminated IS&W property, as well as fear of eminent domain being used to acquire properties adjacent to KPEP. Representative Errington also attended the meeting with questions about the brownfield.
“I arrived at the meeting with a number of questions and concerns,” Errington said. “The panel members and diagrams satisfied those concerns and I left convinced that the Kitselman Gateway and KPEP projects have the potential to turn an unsightly brownfield area into a valuable and inviting community asset.”
Dannar expressed appreciation to MAP and residents for participating, and apologized for the misinformation and fear that he says has been a result of poor communication about the project from its onset. He pointed to the Muncie Action Plan document that over 2,000 residents participated in back in 2010 as to why he chose to move his business to Muncie and identify a brownfield for development.
“I am happy to be in Muncie,” Dannar said. “I have visited brownfields across the country and other businesses are realizing that brownfields are prime opportunities for development and there is nothing to be afraid of about a brownfield in a great location. This property is a home run and a great success story. There is no better spot anywhere in the country, with access to the river, the greenways and downtown.”—Gary Dannar
“This development is about creating jobs and housing and we don’t want to let confusion and fear overwhelm the factual evidence. We are going to do this the right way.”
Dannar told attendees that clean fill dirt will start to be added to the property starting in January if weather allows, with hopes of breaking ground on a new manufacturing facility for DANNAR that is scheduled to be completed by 2018.
St. John and Kyle addressed concerns on remediation of the IS&W property that has been happening since 1996. General Cable sold the IS&W property to KPEP in 2015 but is solely responsible for on-going remediation of the site via ground wells that will remain even with any new development.
“A cleaning plan with IDEM was approved in 2002,” said Kyle, who has been representing General Cable on the IS&W remediation for many years. “Groundwater has been treated since 1992. The wells are pumping it out and cleaning it before sending it to the city wastewater treatment plant. There were two plumes on the property. One plume has been completely cleaned and is no longer in remediation and the other will be cleaned for an undeterminedamount of time until it is deemed complete by IDEM.
“In the meantime, however, the soil on that plume currently meets standards of commercial and industrial use and are safe to develop on. There is an ERC (environmental restrictive covenant) that accompanied the sale of the property that General Cable and KPEP must follow and IDEM will continue to get reports on the remediation even with new development on the site.”
Residents pointed to concerns about the existing concrete leftover after buildings were removed over the last 10 years and asked if it had to be covered up to be safe for development. “If the concrete slab was no longer there, it would continue to be safe to have a commercial industrial compound there,” said St. John, who has helped guide the remediation of the IS&W property for over 20 years. “The soil itself meets bare dirt standards for commercial use.”
Dannar and the panel confirmed that new soil added to the property will be used to raise the property above the floodplain only and that a soil cap is not necessary for safe development. Residential development near the site was also addressed. Dannar and Kyle indicated that only parcels already zoned residential will be used for residential development. Those parcels do not reside on the IS&W property itself. KPEP has bought numerous properties on the existing residential parcel east of the IS&W property at or above assessed value and no residentialdevelopment can occur directly on the IS&W property.
“We will not be using eminent domain to acquire any properties,” Dannar said. “The City of Muncie’s reputation is to never use eminent domain and as a developer we cannot use eminent domain to acquire anything. The land we have acquired has also come back safe for use as fill dirt or further residential development.
“The plan is for a mixed-use village where people can live and work. This is where the rest of the country is going in terms of development. It is not low income or subsidized housing. We are trying to impact the city in a positive way.” Mayor Tyler said he was pleased that this meeting could take place to clarify misconceptions from the community.
“The City of Muncie is excited to be a partner with KPEP in this brownfield’s redevelopment area,” Mayor Tyler said. “This is a project that will greatly improve the quality of place for neighborhood residents and will positively change one of the most active east side corridors into our great city. It will provide renewed vitality for surrounding neighborhoods as well.”
Aimee Fant, Coordinator, Muncie Action Plan and Executive Director, Cancer Services of East Central Indiana – Little Red Door, was one of the moderators for the meeting and said MAP’s role in the community is to facilitate impartial, civil discourse. She emphasized that Muncie’s local neighborhoods have expressed a strong desire to revitalize brownfields and with broad community support, the potential $60 million Eastside investment is a “neighborhood and urban planning dream.”
“The decision of the citizens of Muncie, when forming a strategic plan, was to make brownfields a larger priority than greenfields,” Fant said. “We wanted to make sure that the process of cleaning up this property and other services being performed by KPEP are extremely beneficial to this initiative.”
ABOUT KPEP, LLC
Kitselman Pure Energy Park (KPEP, LLC) is a real estate development on the site of the former Indiana Steel & Wire property on East Jackson Street in Muncie, Indiana. Its purpose is to transform a neglected brownfield into a new, inspiring area for residents and workers. In conjunction with the Kitselman Gateway initiative that will provide new greenspace around the White River, KPEP hopes to provide quality of place improvements to the area by allowing light commercial manufacturing space with the ability for workers and residents to shop and live where they work.