Brownfield Success Story: CR3 Rubber Recycling Site

The old CR3 Rubber Recycling Site in Delaware County, Indiana was a maker of rubber mulch, playground surfacing, and athletic turf. The company’s former owners, the Gruppe brothers, were also working on making recycled fiber into an agricultural soil amendment. However, in August of 2003, a fire broke out at the 5-acre CR3 site, burning for over a week, spreading across an 8-acre pile containing shreds of tires, and destroying the business. Since the destruction of the company nearly 20 years ago, it has been a long journey for the property to recover from the fire and be repurposed.

According to the Tire Business publication, in 2006 the Gruppe brothers were in agreement with an Indiana county court to pay $500,000 to clean up the property. Some clean-up efforts were made in 2009, and in the summer of 2011, the remaining fire material was removed. According to the Associated Press, Delaware County commissioners authorized $1,750 for an environmental study of the property over a decade after the fire. The study was nonintrusive and aimed at getting a history of the property. After the study, an intrusive Phase 2 assessment of the property was done to determine how contaminated it was from the effects of the fire. It was discovered that buried tires reportedly burned for up to two years and sampling found groundwater contaminated with volatile organic compounds. 

The East Central Indiana Regional Planning District played the main role in the cleanup and study of the property and conducted the Phase 1 and 2 assessments on the brownfield. One of the primary services that ECIRPD offers is locating and obtaining funds to put towards the identification and assessment of suspected brownfields. Brownfields are real property, the reuse of which may be complicated by the presence of a hazardous substance, pollutants, or contaminants such as petroleum products, asbestos, lead paint, mold, chemicals, controlled substances, hazardous materials, other environmental contaminants, or mine-scarred land. 

The ECIRPD was able to fund the cleanup and assessment efforts through US Environmental Protection Agency grant funds and funds from the company Lift-A-Loft. According to the Muncie Star Press, The Lift-A-Loft Corporation entered into an agreement with the Indiana Department of Environmental Management calling for a fine of $23,400 to settle alleged hazardous waste violations at its factory. The agreement required Lift-A-Loft to pay $4,680 of the fine, and instead of paying the remainder, the company made a cash payment of $18,720 to the Indiana Finance Authority to fund a “supplemental environmental project” in the Muncie area. With the help of the ECIRPD, the property was sold in 2022 to Brzuszek Grzegorz. 

Miraculously, about two decades later, this property will be made useful again. It’s unclear at the moment what exactly the property will be used for, but Bill Walters, the executive director of the ECIRPD, said semi-truck storage and pick up is a possibility.

There are ample benefits to brownfield redevelopment including helping the environment and local economies. To learn more about the benefits of brownfield redevelopment and the ECIRPD Brownfield Program click here