Redeveloping a historic building is a daunting task, but in Freeport there's an added complication. For years heavy industry abused the land on the city's east side, and today the businesses are gone, but the pollution still remains.
Tuesday night the Illinois EPA and the City of Freeport invited the public to see results of environmental testing. Test results are preliminary at this point, but it appears that several polluted sites in Freeport are not as bad as some were expecting. Still, there are continuing environmental concerns leaders need to address.
There are areas that the city of Freeport would like to redevelop, but the presence of environmental pollution makes that job extremely time consuming and costly. Those working on the project have focused on 11 sites, but there are many more that are on the waiting list.
These sites are largely located in one of the most blighted areas of Freeport, a city where 22 percent of its residents are living below the poverty line and 10 percent are unemployed.
In years past, citizens have felt the cities east side has been neglected, but Freeport Mayor George Gaulrapp says that is changing.
“We're going to continue to clean up, were going to continue to make an environment where people can live and raise their families, ‘cause that’s what we want to do to make sure all parts of Freeport are treated equally.”