Environmental cleanup of toxic waste includes few minority-owned firms

From July to September, a half-dozen areas of LaSalle Park will be either capped with a layer of soil or excavated and replaced with clean soil to mitigate lead contamination.

SOUTH BEND — Although the planned remediation of toxic contaminants in LaSalle Park’s soil mainly affects west side neighborhoods where the vast majority of residents are Black or Hispanic, only 3.2% of the $2.2 million being paid for the project is slated to go to minority-owned businesses.

That percentage, however, is over three times the minimum threshold set by the South Bend Board of Public Works when it determined the project’s required participation rate for minority-owned business enterprises. As outlined in a May bid, just 1% of project subcontractors had to be mostly owned and operated by people of color.

The threshold for women-owned business enterprises, which also classify as disadvantaged under the city’s inclusive procurement and contracting program, was 3.5%. HRP Construction, a South Bend firm that will be paid $2.2 million by the city and Honeywell International for the work, also exceeded that limit by agreeing to pay up to 8.7% of the total sum to women-owned subcontractors.

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