Tetra Tech-Supported Project Wins Phoenix Award of Excellence in Brownfield Redevelopment

Assisting the Chicago Parks District to create an eco-recreation destination in the Midwest
Jan 25, 2018 8:00 AM ET

Tetra Tech News

The Tetra Tech-supported Chicago Park District (CPD) Big Marsh redevelopment project received a 2017 Phoenix Award for outstanding achievement in brownfield redevelopment at the National Brownfields Conference in December. The Phoenix Awards honor innovative projects that solve critical environmental problems and transform abandoned properties into productive sites.

Tetra Tech was the lead environmental consultant on a team that completed the investigation, risk assessment, site restoration, and redevelopment of the 278-acre Big Marsh in Chicago’s Calumet region on the southeast side. The site, which was a disposal area for slag and other waste, is located in a region that depended on the railroad and steel industry for its livelihood for many years. The CPD had a vision of returning the site to an urban oasis and providing eco-recreation activities including fishing, canoeing, hiking, trail biking, and bird watching. Initial phases of improvements to the park included remediation of on-site contaminated areas to create recreational space.

Ecological restoration throughout the entire site is currently under way, including additional clay cap installation, invasive species removal, native species planting, and debris removal. A recently installed water control system is creating a hemi-marsh habitat, which is a wetland with a mix of about half emergent or floating vegetation interspersed with submersed vegetation in deeper open water. This area is vital for wetland-dependent bird species that migrate along the Lake Michigan flyway.

Tetra Tech worked as part of the Hitchcock Design Group design-build team for the Big Marsh site restoration and bike park. Our team conducted the Phase 2 Environmental Site Assessment and consulted with the project team regarding the capping approach. Tetra Tech also supported the CPD in developing Calumet Area-Specific Risk-Based Screening Levels for the range of recreational activities expected to occur at several sites in the region, including Big Marsh, to facilitate evaluation of the sites for future recreational use.

The CPD’s long-term vision for Big Marsh is to develop the site as a regional destination and gateway to southeast Chicago and the greater Calumet region that promotes various eco-recreation activities, including the redeveloped bike park and trails for hiking, and to encourage observations and interactions with nature. Big Marsh also is planned as the site for the future Ford Calumet Environmental Center, which will further enhance the site’s ability to function as a regional gateway for visitors to Chicago’s southeast side.

The Phoenix Award recognizes the team’s innovative approach to environmental remediation and redevelopment to support a project with a lasting, positive effect on the local community.