In the shadow of a former landfill, stateline college students are teeing up and enjoying the sun.
"I think it's pretty safe. It's fine. There are a lot more dangerous things out there," said Jerry McCarty, a local college student.
Decades ago a hill in Loves Park was a trash dump. Today it's part of sand park where kids sled in the winter and enjoy the sun in the summer.
While the pool doesn't sit on the former landfill, EPA officials say it's a hazard and the park district needs to pay up to $9 million to clean it up.
"It really hurts us to have to try and take money our of the district's program and maintenance dollars to have to do a cleanup that's a 65 or 70-year-old problem. However, it's very necessary,” said park district chief operating officer Tim Dimke.
The EPA has been monitoring the site for years but it couldn't pick a worst time to ask the park district to pay for cleanup. The district is facing big deficits and continues to cut programs.
"I wouldn't say this would be first priority. I'd say a lot of those activities are more important to the community. A lot more kids could be having fun or be learning things," says park user McCarty.
Park district leaders say despite the challenges they're committed to doing whatever the EPA recommends. No one has reported an illness in connection with the dump, but traces of contamination in water wells have been a concern.
"Loves Park has been working very diligently to close their wells on the site. They've been working with the area homeowners that have private wells to get hooked up to city water," said Dimke
The park district has allocated $650,000 for a study to assess the cleanup process. It could take 10 to 15 years.