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 IGNN: Environment Press Release

The Environment News section provides access to all State of Illinois press releases that have been published about conservation and the environment, addressing topics ranging from preservation strategies, to prevention and restoration issues.

April 23, 2007

Illinois EPA Director presents $300,000 grant to Mayor of Aurora for watershed protection efforts
Leaders also announce details of a new riverfront clean-up partnership

AURORA Illinois EPA Director Doug Scott on April 20 announced a $300,000 grant which will help clean up the Fox River area in downtown Aurora.  Director Scott presented a ceremonial check to Aurora Mayor Tom Weisner and Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning Executive Director Randall Blankenhorn as he applauded their efforts towards improving the community.  The grant is administered by the Illinois EPA through a Section 319 Clean Water Act Nonpoint Source Pollution Prevention Grant and given to the city to be used for watershed best management practices along the River and Indian Creek in Aurora.  
The announcement took place on the Fox River Trail next to a massive illegal dump site historically referred to as Kiddie Kar, located at 412 North Broadway and adjacent to both the Fox River and Indian Creek.  In addition to being a threat to these two bodies of water, the site has been an eyesore and a hindrance to development in the area.  Approximately 39,000 cubic yards of waste, including tens of thousands of tires, roofing shingles, wood, other building materials and household waste, reaching 30 feet in height, existed when the clean up began. 
“The transformation underway in the City of Aurora is two-fold.  It not only removes unsightly environmental hazards, but it will hopefully lead way to an economic transformation for the community,” said Illinois EPA Director Doug Scott.  “The City’s collaborative efforts, innovative use of resources and initiative they exhibited towards finding ways to clean up the City help make for a healthier environment and future economic opportunity, and serve as a good model for other cities in similar situations throughout the state.”
The $300,000 Clean Water Act grant will be used to incorporate nonpoint source pollution and stormwater management into a large urban park.  The key to the project will be designing and building a Stormwater Wetland, which will receive and treat runoff from a 579-acre portion of the City before being discharged to the river.  The wetland will be designed to remove pollutants that are common in urban settings; it will enhance habitat, attract birds and wildlife; improve aesthetics of the park; and improve water retention. 
Mayor Weisner provided an overview of the proactive and collaborative approach Aurora has taken to clean up a number of contaminated properties along the city’s riverfront.  The two leaders unveiled the details of a new partnership between the Illinois EPA, City of Aurora and the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP) to further clean-up and protect the riverfront.
“We have a responsibility to preserve and protect the Fox River for future generations,” said Mayor Weisner.  “I want to thank the Illinois EPA and Governor Blagojevich for partnering with Aurora to implement new and innovative solutions to managing storm water and keeping our land, air and water clean.”
With the aid of several Illinois EPA programs, the City of Aurora is working to cleanup and to restore a portion of the Fox River that has tremendous redevelopment potential.  The site has become severely blighted over the years, with significant open dumping, including many tens of thousands of waste tires imbedded in the waste.
As part of their comprehensive approach to cleaning up the Fox River area, Aurora worked with the Office of Governor Rod R. Blagojevich, Illinois EPA and the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) to pass the River Edge Initiative and recently was the first Illinois city to qualify for a River’s Edge Development Zone designation from DCEO.

“This project is an excellent example of effective collaboration between the local, regional, state and federal levels,” said Randy Blankenhorn, executive director of the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning.  “By providing technical oversight and administering the grant, CMAP will work with the City of Aurora and IEPA to use innovative stormwater management techniques that will improve water quality and create new recreational space for all to enjoy.”

“The Fox River is the crown jewel of our region and this state grant to help clean the Aurora riverfront and Indian Creek area is good news for not only our state's second largest city but for the entire Fox River Valley,” said State Sen. Linda Holmes, D-Plainfield.
“This grant to use natural techniques to improve the water quality in the Fox River is another  great step forward in the partnership the State and Illinois EPA have established with Aurora in cleaning up the Fox River and helping make it a great asset to our citizens,” said State Rep. Linda Chapa LaVia, D-Aurora.
“The Friends of the Fox River is pleased to hear of Aurora’s latest effort to improve the Fox River and increase the public access,” said Chuck Roberts, President of Friends of the Fox River.  “Aurora has the Fox River running through the heart of its downtown and is actively embracing this wonderful resource.”


Kiddie Kar was a former auto parts dealer that operated from 1980 to 1998.  The most recent business is Triad Auto, a used car dealership.  During the time Triad Auto has been in business, most of the open dumping has occurred at the rear of the business along the riverfront.  Nearly a third of the material is estimated to be tires.  Illegal dumping has occurred as recently as 2003, leading to both criminal and civil lawsuits.  Earlier this month, the City revoked the property owners special use permit to operate the used car lot on the site and the business must close after being given time to reduce its inventory.
The Aurora City Council approved spending $650,750 on a contract it awarded in May to remove the materials on the site.  In February 2005, Aurora was awarded a $119,994 Municipal Brownfields Redevelopment Grant from the Illinois EPA, to fund the consulting engineering, planning and oversight for the cleanup at the Kiddie Kar site.  The City is in the process of preparing a grant amendment to request an additional $120,000 from the brownfields grant program for costs related to the site.
In August 2005 the City requested a Targeted Site Assessment from the Illinois EPA.  Upon inspection it was determined that subsurface investigation was not yet possible because of the 20 to 30 foot piles of debris on the site.  In 2006, Illinois EPA also assisted in exploratory investigation of the pile to determine general contents, estimate the amount of tires, and determine if any hazardous substances were likely to be present as part of preparing bid documents for the cleanup project.
Illinois EPA is in the process of removing several thousand tires from the site.  Preliminary rough estimates indicate tens of thousands of tires are on the site and it may be as many as 100,000 or more tire equivalents, with estimated cost to Illinois EPA ranging from $70,000 to $160,000.
During winter 2006/2007, monitoring wells were installed and sampled around the property to determine if groundwater was impacted by past disposal activities at the site.  Once the surface materials have been removed, Illinois EPA will undertake a comprehensive environmental investigation of the surface and subsurface soils starting in late summer or early fall of this year.  Illinois EPA estimates the cost of this work so far is $40,000 with an expected additional $100,000 to be needed for the comprehensive investigation after the surface waste materials have been removed.


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