Merrillville one of six municipalities to earn state recognition for environmental achievements
The Town of Merrillville is one of six municipalities in the state and the only in northern Indiana to earn an Indiana Clean Community designation.
Merrillville along with Beech Grove, Brown County, Fishers, Richmond, and Zionsville were honored by the Indiana Department of Environmental Management on Tuesday (Nov. 28) for their achievements in the Indiana Clean Community Program.
“We were excited to collaborate closely with our partners at IDEM as a pilot community to support the Indiana Clean Community Program to benefit the environmental health and wellness of our town,” Merrillville Stormwater Executive Director Matt Lake said.
Merrillville and the other communities have been working with IDEM since 2021 on developing the Clean Community Program, which replaces the Indiana Clean Community Challenge.
Merrillville’s commitment to pursuing projects to address community and social issues led to the town reaching the Bronze Level in the Indiana Clean Community Program.
“It is exciting to see our work recognized along with other Indiana cities and towns,” Merrillville Town Council President Rick Bella said. “Our Bronze Level award is due to the work of our Merrillville Clean Team, and also by having a positive environmental history, and attending the Indiana Clean Annual meeting.”
Although excited about achieving the Bronze Level, Bella understands there’s room to improve.
“We can now work toward a new goal of Silver or Gold membership, and I look forward to working with Stormwater Utility Executive Director Matt Lake toward those goals,” Bella said.
The new Indiana Clean Community Program was officially unveiled Tuesday so other municipalities in the state can now participate. Visit on.IN.gov/cleancommunity to learn more about the initiative.
Participating in the Clean Community Program can lead to a variety of benefits for municipalities. That includes becoming more sustainable and resilient. The recognition can also assist municipalities when they apply for competitive grants and assistance programs.
Bella stressed the importance of participating in initiatives like the Indiana Clean Community Program to earn recognition downstate because it can help when working with state lawmakers on potential legislation and other projects.
“I think Merrillville is back on the map,” Bella said. “It’s kind of nice to see that.”