Contaminated Site in Freeport Being Cleared for Recreational Use

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An eyesore in Freeport’s east side is getting a makeover thanks to a $200,000 cleanup grant.

Underground oil tanks and garbage are all that remain on the vacant land at Stephenson Street and Henderson Rd. Now considered just another Brownfield, this area was once a vital part of Freeport.

"What we're standing on is the old Chicago, Milwaukee, Saint Paul rail yard and along the rail yard the railroad would lease out property along Henderson here a lot of those were bulk petroleum facilities," said Geologist Joel Zirkle.

The petroleum tanks contaminated the ground making it a health and safety hazard to the community.

“Yes, we do exceed regulatory levels on certain contaminants,” says Zirkle

“There’s concern about different sites on the east part of the city. Cancer rates are a little bit higher," Says Freeport Mayor George Gaulrapp.

By reclaiming abandoned properties like this one the City of Freeport is helping revitalize the local economy by improving business development and creating more jobs in an area struggling with unemployment.

Thanks to a grant from the Environmental Protection Agency this will soon be a recreational area for families. he Pecatonica Prairie Path, Jane Addams Trail and Tutty's Crossing will route through here creating a link in trails in Illinois and Wisconsin.

“Very good. Connects Freeport with everyone from the east to the west making it a destination site once again improving our city up." said Gaulrapp

Once the trail is completed any where from 5,000 to 15,000 visitors are expected. Those visitors will dine at area restaurants and use hotels helping boost Freeport’s economy and hopefully create a need for more jobs.

Cleanup is expected to continue over the summer and work on the bike path could begin in the fall.