Chamber seeks grant to clean up hazardous sites
Updated: January 14, 2013 6:12AM
HODGKINS — The West Suburban Chamber of Commerce and Industry is spearheading a grant application that could bring $200,000 for cleanup of hazardous area properties.
The Chamber’s eight member communities are partnering with the Cook County to apply for a federal Environmental Protection Agency grant to remediate vacant sites in Hodgkins, McCook and Willow Springs.
The effort is to revive “brownfields,” unusable properties that include abandoned gas stations or former industrial sites with chemical contamination, explained Steve Erickson, Chamber executive director.
“Any one of a number of companies have operated and left behind some pretty nasty stuff,” Erickson said. “Just to assess the damage and then to remediate it could involve a huge expense. It’s a big dilemma.”
The grant could go a long way toward making the sites safe for residential or commercial redevelopment and impact the other neighboring Chamber members, La Grange, Western Springs, LaGrange Park, Indian Head Park and Countryside, he said.
“General remediation creates a lot of jobs and an economic boost for everyone,” Erickson said.
Chamber community representatives formed an economic development council in the fall, and a county representative encouraged the group to apply for the grant and provided expertise to assess potential sites for clean-up.
“This is really big time. We’ve got as good a chance at this as anybody does,” Erickson said.
The proposal was loaded with letters of support from community leaders and U.S. Rep. Daniel Lipinski, D-3rd, Western Springs.
Erickson said he’s uncertain how many other groups across the country are in competition with the Chamber for the grant or the timetable, but a determination is expected by March.
“It’s a winner whether or not we’re selected because we’ve set up the mechanism and people are very eager to work together to solve things on a regional basis,” he said. “That hasn’t been done before. It’s a really strong message to send out to prospective businesses that this is a great place to live and do business.”