A truck collects soil samples from the former industrial site. (Courtesy Park District of Forest Park)

Trucks, diggers and boring machinery were set up on the Park District of Forest Park’s Roos parcel site last week as a group of geologists and engineers took soil samples to test for chemical contamination.

The site of the park district’s future recreation center and indoor gym, now surrounded with fencing, has trace amounts of solvents, petroleum hydrocarbons and heavy metals in the soil.

The park district received a $165,000 grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for a “brownfield assessment” to measure the amount and types of industrial chemical contamination on the site. 

These chemicals were dribbled into the ground over the 85-year history of the three-story E.D. Roos factory, which stood on the site since 1918. Over the years the factory turned out wooden bridal hope chests and employed 400 people during peak production years. After the factory closed, the building served other uses, among them a pen manufacturer and a soap company.

Environmental consultants from St. John-Mittelhauser & Assoc. of Downer’s Grove took soil borings to measure contamination. The samples will be analyzed in a lab. 

The park district is still in the running for a U.S. EPA $400,000 brownfield cleanup grant that could help pay for the remediation. 

The ultimate goal is a “no further remediation” letter from the Illinois EPA once all ground contamination is identified and removed.

The park district is still on schedule to “break ground in spring 2015,” said Executive Director Larry Piekarz.

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...