Low-level concentrations of hazardous waste and pollution will be assessed at two Forest Park public properties with help from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the agency announced Thursday.

The grant funds will be used to assess cleanup for brownfield sites at the park district’s Roos parcel and the village-owned Altenheim property.

A brownfield site is land previously used for commercial or industrial purposes, which has been contaminated by low concentrations of hazardous waste or pollution.

Two grants were submitted to the agency in January by the park district and the village of Forest Park. Both were awarded Thursday.

The park district worked with the Illinois EPA over the past two years to test the site of the former Roos factory building at Harrison Street and Circle Avenue.

The tests showed that soil and groundwater at the site of the former 1920s-era building contained small amounts of multiple hazardous substances, including vinyl chloride, benzene, methylene chloride, toluene, acetone, tetrachloroethene, trichloroethene, 16 polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and dangerous metals, among other substances, a park district report said.

Chemicals are primarily located in a “hot spot,” the center of the property, near the old loading dock. 

With help from the EPA assessment grant, the park district will be able to plan a cleanup. The park districts also applied for a $200,000 grant to pay for 80 percent of the actual brownfield cleanup costs.

The goal is to receive a no-further-remediation letter from the Illinois EPA, Parks Director Larry Piekarz has said. That letter is awarded when a site is safe for residential use.  

Altenheim property

Forest Park joined a consortium of communities under an umbrella grant request for $600,000 to be submitted through the Cook County Department of Environmental Control. Other communities in the consortium are Bellwood, Franklin Park, Maywood, Melrose Park, Schiller Park and Northlake. 

The grant is awarded through the Small Business Liability Relief and Brownfields Revitalization Act, passed in 2002. The communities would each get a portion of the total to perform brownfield assessments of cleanup-ready sites.

The 11-acre, village-owned Altenheim parcel behind the 7800 block of Madison Street would be the site chosen in Forest Park, Village Administrator Tim Gillian said in January.

The grant announcement did not specify how much of the grant would be earmarked for Forest Park.

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Jean Lotus loves community journalism. She covers news, features, two school boards, village council, crime, park district and writes obits for Forest Park Review. She also covers the police beat for...