Tinley Park members demand state to clean up abandoned site with environmental damage

TINLEY PARK, Ill. (WLS) -- Nearly 300 acres of property that once served as home to the Tinley Park Mental Health center has been abandoned for nearly a decade.

According the village, these days the area in the center of Tinley Park is home to vagrants, thieves looking for scrap metal and copper and huge environmental concerns, including mold and asbestos.

"After closing it in 2012, the state hasn't done a thing with it except let it's conditions get worse," said Michael Glotz, Tinley Park mayor.

Village officials estimate it could cost about 15 million dollars to clean up the site. They have been pressing the state for an answer on the property for years.

At one point a couple years ago, they had a developer interested in turning the property into a race track and casino at a cost of $450 million, including the cost of cleaning up the environmental mess. It would have been huge jolt for the economy in the South Suburbs. However, residents now say that is secondary.

"Sure, I care what goes here, but the first step is getting it cleaned up," said Nancy O'Connor, resident.

Village officials said the site is riddled with gas lines, rusting equipment, collapsed structures and overgrown foliage. There are numerous underground tunnels throughout the property. Also, a recent water main break spilled about 2 million gallons of water into the site. The water is now likely contaminated.

"What we want them to do is clean it up or sell it. That seems to be in the best interest of everyone," said Paul O'Grady, village attorney.

The state legislature passed a bill last year that would provide money for cleanup of the site, but it has not been appropriated.

The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency has not provided an answer at the moment.
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