Rumors have it that the Lemont Board and Mayor are contemplating selecting a name for its proposed Soccer Complex: it is the "Lemont Brownfield Soccer Center". Admittedly, not a flashy attention getter. If true, the possible reasons for this rather premature move is probably twofold; first it shows their determination to pursue this project, in spite of no public input or demonstrated support, and secondly, it could be that rather than try to deflect and dismiss the significance of planning to build this facility on leased, contaminated land (owned by the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District - MWRD) if they just boldly acknowledge the polluted status of the site, that it would somehow convince the parents that they have nothing to fear about the health of their children playing on a brownfield soccer field.
NOTE: For those of you readers not quite sure what a "Brownfield" really is, the following is how the website "homefacts.com" describes Lemont's very own Brownfield: "A Brownfield is any land in the United States that has been contaminated by hazardous waste and identified by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as a candidate for cleanup because it poses a risk to human health and/or the environment. [It is] Real property, the expansion, redevelopment, or reuse of which may be complicated by the presence or possible presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant."
Under Illinois law, financial responsibility for Brownfield cleanup costs is the responsibility of the property owner, in this case the MWRD. Estimates for cleanup costs for this property have ranged between $500,000 and $1,000,000.
at first, the MWRD was willing to comply with the law and use its own funds to clean up its own property. However, because the Lemont Board and Mayor have continued to show interest in leasing this property, the MWRD, probably sensing an opportunity to save some of its money, have changed its position and now insists that Lemont taxpayers pay to clean up the MWRD's Brownfield property. Despite the highly doubtful legality of this expenditure of Lemont tax monies to pay the legally mandated costs of another taxing body, it is important to understand that the Lemont Village Board and the Mayor have repeatedly stated that once they were elected that they can do want they want, and that if we - the Lemont taxpayers - don't like it, then we can vote them out of office. That's pretty obvious, the problem for us is that they can do a lot of damage until then. It is also important to know that they remain absolutely determined to build this thing, whether we Lemonters want it or not.
Left unresolved is the second public relations problem facing the village by their plans to build the Lemont Brownfield Soccer Center next to the Sanitary and Ship Canal. While it is true that ships do ply its waters, the "Sanitary" part is really a misnomer since its contents includes some un-sanitary "stuff". according to Wikipedia, the Sanitary and Ship Canal also serves the following function: "Chicago's sewage treatment system discharges only lightly treated fecal matter into the canals. Because of concerns of the effects of chlorine, Chicago has a rare distinction among major American cities: it does not employ a disinfection stage at its three main sewage treatment plants. The result is canal water with fecal coliform colonies, so that signs along the canals warn that the contents are not suitable for any human contact."
In other words, the Sanitary and Ship Canal serves as an open sewer for transferring Chicago's untreated sewage to the Mississippi River watershed through Lemont right past the proposed site of the Lemont Brownfield Soccer Center.
This doesn't sound like a candidate for a Naperville style Riverwalk destination attraction to me.
Given the rather negative images of these two hurdles to the initiation of this project, it is not surprising that the Lemont Village Board and Mayor have consistently refused to allow any meaningful input to the decision making process for the Lemont Brownfield Soccer Center by the Lemont taxpayers. The question is, are we going to let them get away with it? Are we going to let 6 Board members and the Mayor, without any yea or nay vote from we Lemonters, to obligate us to pay for this up to $39 million project? ( $21 million cost + up $18 million in interest) Given their continued defiance to acknowledge or allow any taxpayer input about this project, if you want a say in this matter you will have to demand it! Trusting this Board and Mayor, who by the way have no demonstrated experience in planning and implementing anything of this scope, to do the right thing in this matter may prove quite costly to we taxpayers who will be left behind to pay when this thing fails and the those solely responsible, the Village Board members and the Mayor, move out of town to a lower tax community.