FREEPORT, IL - Lieutenant Governor Pat Quinn saluted the city of Freeport for its downtown revitalization and riverfront redevelopment efforts at a dedication ceremony for the Tutty’s Crossing trailhead.
“The completion of the first phase of the Tutty’s Crossing trailhead is another reason residents of Freeport should be proud of their community,” said Quinn. “With its innovative downtown redevelopment initiatives, Freeport has taken this underutilized property along the Pecatonica River and transformed it into an area that both residents and visitors can enjoy.”
The Tutty’s Crossing project began as a Superfund site of an abandoned bankrupt battery factory in 1991. After the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) took control of the property and supervised the cleanup, the city of Freeport began exploration in 1997 of the site as a possible trailhead for the Jane Addams Recreational Trail and the Pecatonica Prairie Path, which is part of the 500-mile Grand Illinois Trail that traverses northern Illinois from Lake Michigan to the Mississippi River.
So began the collaboration that brought together the U.S. EPA, Illinois EPA, Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT), Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) and a former owner of the factory for the restoration of the unique brownfield project. Today, Tutty’s Crossing is a showcase project for Illinois brownfields development that has received both statewide and nationwide attention.
“Freeport has realized that creative and inventive brownfield redevelopment can transform environmentally impaired land into dynamic uses that can result in many benefits for the community,” said Quinn, noting how Tutty’s Crossing will only enhance Freeport’s diverse and vibrant economy.
Tutty’s Crossing connects the Pecatonica Prairie Path with the Jane Addams Trail, named after the humanitarian and social work pioneer who was born and raised in nearby Cedarville.
Addams (1860-1935) was the first American female to be awarded the prestigious Nobel Peace Prize. Among her causes were the co-founding of Hull House in Chicago that benefits poor immigrants, co-founding the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and being involved in women's suffrage. The Jane Addams Trail runs north where it joins with a series of trails in Wisconsin.
“When the founder of Freeport – Tutty Baker – built a trading post offering free ferry service on the banks of the Pecatonica River, he had a vision of bringing early settlers to this burgeoning community,” Quinn said. “Freeport’s tradition of hospitality grows stronger today as the community welcomes hikers and bikers to explore its many parks and nature preserves featuring Illinois wetlands, tall grass prairies, rivers and streams.”
Quinn was joined at the press conference by Freeport Mayor James L. Gitz, local officials, and representatives from the U.S. EPA, Illinois EPA, IDOT, Freeport Chamber of Commerce and the Stephenson County Convention and Visitors Bureau.
A Superfund site is any land that has been contaminated by hazardous waste and identified by the U.S. EPA as a candidate for cleanup because it poses a risk to human health or the environment. A brownfield site is an abandoned or underused industrial and commercial property that has actual or perceived contamination and has potential for redevelopment.