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Chinatown EPA Cleanup Project Makes Way for Youth Soccer Field

Submitted on Wed, 04/09/2008 – 01:57.

Chinatown community leaders say a new youth soccer field will be built, but plans for a new field house still depend on Chicago Park District funding.

On March 17, the Ping Town Advisory Council announced the park district’s expansion of Ping Town Memorial Park. Located in the South Loop area near the corner of West 19th Street and Wentworth Avenue.

The Ping Town Advisory Council formed a grassroots organization to advocate for the park’s expansion by obtaining funding from the park district federal and state government and individual contributions.

“We’ve been pushing long and hard to try to get phase two of this project started which includes the field house,” said Leonard Louie, director of the Chinese American Civic Council and president of the park’s advisory board. “It has been very slow in happening.”

Louie is hoping the media coverage and backing of political leaders like U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and the Illinois EPA will help sway the park district to commit the extra dollars needed for the field house.

“This might be the kick start that we’ve needed,” Louie said.

Louie wants the new field house to be part of what he envisions as a revitalization of the South Loop area.

“The thing that we are still working on with the Park District is to get additional money for the field house,” Louie said.

Ping Town Memorial Park was once an abandoned dumping ground that allowed the site to qualify for funding from llinois Removes Illegal Dumps (I-RID) program of the Illinois EPA.

“Ten years ago, the spot we’re standing on today was an abandoned rail yard and the children living in this neighborhood hadn’t had a park of their own for more than 30 years. Today this is one of the most beautiful and unique parks and playgrounds in the city-thanks to a great Illinois EPA programs,” Durbin said at the press conference.

Durbin secured $450,000 in funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for expansion of the park.

More than $ 100,000 I-RID dollars helped fund the cleanup to remove nearly 1,500 cubic yards of waste from this site alone. There are still discarded railroad ties and concrete debris that needs to be removed.

“The goal of the cleanup that we are witnessing today is to two-fold. It not only will remove an environmental eyesore, which has grown over the years, but it will create a space for families to enjoy the outdoors in their own community for generations to come,” said Douglas Scott, director of the Illinois EPA.

The Illinois EPA launched I-RID in 2006 that allocates $3 million toward the cleanup of illegal open dumps where no responsible party could be found to do the job. The program also gives the Illinois EPA director authority to seal sites where there is a potential risk for harm to human health or the environment, said Jill Watson, spokesperson for the Illinois EPA.

More than 130 open dumps across the state have been cleaned up by the Illinois EPA. According to Watson, found items include refrigerators, couches and fiberglass boats. The agency has recycled more than 281 tons of tires, 500 tons of metal and some 23,300 tons of other debris has been taken to landfills for proper disposal in landfills.

In 1998, the Chicago Park District began transforming the site into a rolling green space with a children’s playground. It expanded the park in 2002 by acquiring five additional acres on the northeast side.

At Play Eco & Environment Parks & Public Land Public South Side
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