Gathering at the Fisher Barton Plaza, Department of Natural Resources (DNR) representatives: Jody Irland, Outreach Coordinator; Tom Coogan, Brownfields Policy Coordinator; and Jodie Thistle, Brownfields Outreach and Policy Section Chief along with Mayor Emily McFarland; Sarah Gruza, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Brownfields Project Manager; Mason Becker, Watertown Redevelopment Authority (RDA), Executive Director; Joshua Patterson, Bank First, VP Market Manager; Jonathan Lampe, RDA Board Member and District 2 Alder person; Steve Board, District 2 Alder person; Sharon Darcey and Jon Holthaus, Joseph and Sharon Darcey Foundation; David Zimmermann, RDA Board Member; Ryan Wagner, RDA Vice Chair; and Dan Bartz, RDA Board Member and District 2 Alder person for the official presentation of the 2023 US EPA Region 5 Brownfields Success Award honoring the Bentzin Family Town Square. The award recognizes “outstanding contributions in Brownfields redevelopment”.
“Today is a day of recognition as we come together to honor an extraordinary achievement, the Bentzin Family Town Square project has been awarded the prestigious 2023 US EPA Region 5 Brownfields Success Award,” said Mason Becker, RDA Executive Director. Becker, along with members from the Watertown Redevelopment Authority, Common Council, City staff, Darcey Foundation, and community gathered at the Fisher Barton Plaza to officially receive the Success Award from U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) representatives.
To fully understand the significance of this award, consider that, out of the six states, Wisconsin Minnesota, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, and 35 Tribal Nations in Region 5, the Bentzin Family Town Square project was chosen. “Demonstrating the positive change truly begins with a shared vision for what we can do when we collaborate and work together,” Becker added. In total, grants from the DNR and EPA for the Town Square were almost $1 million. Becker continued, “The DNR and EPA’s contribution extends far beyond financial support as they have offered their guidance, expertise, and assistance throughout the challenging phases of demolition and construction.”
“The Brownfields Program is designed to empower states, tribes, communities, and other stakeholders to work together to prevent, assess, safely clean up, and sustainably reuse brownfields,” said Sarah Gruza, U.S. EPA Brownfields Project Manager. Since the Brownfields Program began in 1995, the EPA has invested one trillion dollars to help communities assess and clean up contaminated properties and return them to productive use.
“We have been very, very fortunate to have an excellent liaison at the DNR assigned to the City,” said Mayor Emily McFarland. “Tom Coogan [DNR Brownfields Policy Coordinator] has helped us on more than one occasion…we are so grateful to be able to have those partnerships because spaces like this don’t happen with just municipal dollars, they don’t happen with just private dollars or companies coming forward…to be able to have all these partners come together and to be able to make this space has truly transformed our community,” she continued. In closing, McFarland thanked everyone who came to the event and thanked everyone who made the Town Square everything that it is and everything it will become.
Sharon Darcey and Jon Holthaus, Joseph and Sharon Darcey Foundation; Jody Irland, DNR Outreach Coordinator; Mayor Emily McFarland; Jodie Thistle, DNR Brownfields Outreach and Policy Section Chief; Sarah Gruza, U.S. EPA Brownfields Project Manager; and Tom Coogan, DNR Brownfields Policy Coordinator in front of plaques commemorating the grants and gifts they gave to the Bentzin Family Town Square project.