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Nicor Contamination Cleanup Hits a 'Bump in the Road'

Residents surrounding the Skokie area should expect to see 192 trucks a day for 21 months carrying contaminated waste in order to clean up a site proposed for a new sports park. The traffic route for the trucks has not been finalized.

A contamination cleanup at the southwest corner of Oakton Street and McCormick Boulevard has hit a 'bump in the road' after a public forum at McCracken School Tuesday.

The contaminated land - which is adjacent to the Skokie Sports Park on Oakton Street - will soon turn into a massive sports field, with three lighted baseball diamonds, a soccer field and possibly even a place to play cricket. But before any construction can begin, Nicor Gas - along with the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency - have to dispose of contaminated material beneath the ground.

Lincolnwood residents became "outraged" after they learned of the traffic route the trucks carrying the contaminated waste would take to dispose of the material.

The original plan was to have the trucks exit Oakton Street and turn right on McCormick Boulevard before heading west onto Touhy Avenue and merge onto the Edens Expressway to a landfill in Joliet.

When Lincolnwood residents realized the vehicles would be cutting through their village, however, they organized a protest and provided an animated spectacle at Tuesday's forum by laughing at several statements made by Nicor officials and questioning those with opposing views.

An estimated 24 trucks were originally set to drive up and down Touhy Avenue in Lincolnwood every hour, eight hours a day for 21 months. That comes out to 192 trucks travelling down Touhy Avenue a day or 4,032 truck for the estimated 21 months it will take to complete the project.

While Nicor can keep their original traffic route - Touhy Avenue is a state road which Lincolnwood has no say over - the utility company has already backtracked.

"The traffic plan has been scrapped," said Jim Tansor, Manager of Community Relations and Economic Development for Nicor Gas at Tuesday's open forum. "[At this time] there is no traffic plan. There is no route. [The new traffic plan] will involve the Village of Lincolnwood and the Village of Skokie."

While the original traffic route would have been the most efficient - Nicor Gas prefers the trucks only turn right as turning left takes more time - Lincolnwood residents are suggesting the vehicles take Oakton or Dempster Street west to the highway. The contamination cleanup has a tentative start date of July 23.

Touhy already is a busy avenue. With the construction of Touhy Marketplace, , many residents feel the original traffic route would only lead to more congestion.

Nicor Gas will be holding future open forums for Lincolnwood and Skokie residents to come up with another solution to the traffic route dilemma.

A tale of two villages -

The forum, which was hosted by Nicor Gas, featured a seating arrangement typically found at an American wedding. However, instead of having the groom's family on one side and the bride's on the other, it was Lincolnwood on one half and Skokie on the other.

Lincolnwood Mayor Jerry Turry responded to Tansor's comments by standing up from his seat and addressing his constituents.

"We know [the original traffic plan] existed at one point," rebutted Turry. "We are not going to jump through hoops just because there is green fields for baseball fields."

Turry is up for reelection this February and Turry's comments were met by applause from many Lincolnwood residents in the audience.

One Skokie resident, however, shared a different point of view.  

"I do not share many of the views expressed by Lincolnwood residents," he stated before an audience of about 100. "I'm very excited about the possibilities to come. I think it is exciting for many people who are young and have kids. I'm hoping some of the views of others will be listened to.

"It exists beyond us," he added. "And I think we all need to think about that."

History of the land and resident concerns -

"The materials found underground [at the site] are a result [of] how energy used to be produced 100 years ago," said Annette Martinez, corporate communications director for Nicor Gas.

The site once was considered state of the art. The construction of the plant meant street lamps no longer would need to be lit by hand, and it was a more efficient way to disperse energy.

Coal was used to fuel the plant and over time it became apparent that it was hazardous to the environment. Nicor is planning to remove an unknown amount of coal tar and benzene from the site.

"If removed in a proper manner there are no health risks associated with this sight," Martinez said. "We work with an environmental firm and the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency. We follow all procedures. We know we can do this appropriately."

Nicor representatives added that among the inconveniences to come from the removal of the contaminated waste is an odor similar to that of mothballs, they said. Air quality will be monitored by two separate devices to make sure there is no risk to nearby residents or workers, officials said.

The cost of the contamination removal will be paid for through a funding mechanism that every Nicor Gas customer pays for that's included in their bill. Martinez added that there will be no increase in customer fees to remove the waste, she said.  

The land is owned by the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District (MWRD) of Greater Chicago. The Village of Skokie is leasing the land from the MWRD.

Signed in 1994, the term of the lease runs through April 2032. Skokie Park District Superintendent of Parks and Facilities John Orhlund suggested that the cost of the lease was extremely minimal to the Village of Skokie. He also added an estimated "ballpark" figure to complete the sports park expansion at around $3 million, but added that the number is not official in any way.

Nicor's history of Skokie 

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Ruth H June 13, 2012 at 04:09 PM
@Skokie Mike i think what you are leaving out is that LW is a tight knit community. just look at what happened with the school districts and them. they like to be kept in the loop and that is something nicor failed to do. 192 trucks a day and they didnt know? nicor had a huge miscalucation if you ask me.
Katie Gudgel June 13, 2012 at 06:33 PM
Between McCormick and the freeway Touhy has about 30,000 vehicles per day according to IDOT vehicle counts (http://www.gettingaroundillinois.com/mapviewer.aspx?mt=aadt). Dempster also has around 30,000, but Oakton only has around 18,000. So, the added trucks will add about 0.7% of additional traffic to Touhy or Dempster, but 1.1% to Oakton (which doesn't have freeway access).
Skokie Mike June 13, 2012 at 07:18 PM
it is just a matter of time before this LW hoods start shaking down drivers passing through their village. who the hell are they to say anything about this? according to their logic nobody should use their roads and mayor turry is a big fat phony in my book. 30,192 - that's too many cars to travel down touhy? the funny thing is, even if they know they are wrong they are too stuborn to change their stance. i can't wait till this group needs a hand from skokie. i hope we laugh at their face.
Earl Weiss June 13, 2012 at 07:46 PM
""An estimated 24 trucks were originally set to drive up and down Touhy Avenue in Lincolnwood every hour, eight hours a day for 21 months. That comes out to 192 trucks travelling down Touhy Avenue a day" They seem to count each truck twice, once in each direction. The post below references a traffic increase of .7% but it is really not that large since the #s used below are 24 hour numbers and traffic is heavier during the day, so this will add a smaller percentage during those hours. I counted cars and trucks of this size and larger for 5 minutes at 10:00 am eastbound. It extrapolates out to 2880 cars an hour and 192 trucks. The percentage increrase is very small. These people should focus their efforts on the spendthrif schools.
Michael Mc June 13, 2012 at 09:14 PM
Safety trumps Lincolnwood's concerns. The fewer left turns these trucks make, the less chance they will cause or be involved in a fatal accident. If Lincolnwood wants quiet, buy land in Nebraska and move there. Touhy Avenue is a state road, handles plenty trucks already, and these trucks will be using the road legally. Turry should stop grandstanding.
George Slefo (Editor) June 13, 2012 at 09:40 PM
Skokie is already looking to improve road safety after the tragic death of Carter Vo (http://patch.com/A-tQdF). I think you bring up an important point, too. What does everybody else think about this question regarding safety? I'd love to hear your thoughts. Thanks!
Mike Reid June 14, 2012 at 12:46 PM
What is going to happen when renovation starts on the purple hotel on Touhy, in Lincolnwood? I am sure there is a load of asbestos and other potentially harmful materials that will be carted out of that sight. And if the residents of Lincolnwood don't think there will be a few trucks going down Touhy for that project, I think they will be in for a big surprise. And they won't be able to blame anyone else for that one!
Michael Mc June 14, 2012 at 05:12 PM
Quoting an earlier Patch story: "For the last 30 years, [Lincolnwood resident] Parikh Yogesh has yet to make a left turn from Hamlin Avenue onto Touhy." If it takes Me. Yogesh 30 to make a left turn in that neighborhood, imagine what further delay Lincolnwood would impose by making all those truck drivers make dozens more left turns. Lincolnwood might instead consider the Nicor traffic route as "practice" for when the Super WalMart opens. If you think a few more trucks every half hour will be a problem, imagine what will happen on Saturdays when everyone and their uncle come looking to save a few cents on Pampers and beer! Lincolnwood wake up! You are in an urban area. Deal with it. There will be traffic. Plenty of peace and quiet available outside Omaha. Cheap too, mainly because they lack access to all the amenities you are now complaining about.
Go Huskers June 14, 2012 at 09:46 PM
Skokie Mike, Right on! We are embarrassed by our residence too. Can we be honorary Skokie residence, just to use the park?
Go Huskers June 14, 2012 at 10:17 PM
No Nebraska jokes. NO Nebraskan would put-up with this lunacy in Lincolnwood. Nebraskan's are very pragmatic people, I know I am one. While I didn't attend the meeting the safety of drivers and construction workers is critical. I am concerned that Touhy will be a NIGHTMARE with the added traffic. I looked to Nicor and ComEd to address these concerns.
Go Huskers June 14, 2012 at 10:55 PM
You have crossed the line. I am an Omahan...We have plenty of amenities and a lot more class then most Wooders. Maybe it's time the old guard retire to Florida or better yet, find a new community to call Peyton Place or Stepford.
MySay2 June 14, 2012 at 11:00 PM
Lincolnwood just has a mayor who wants to rip into everyone and anyone so he can appear a HERO! Turry and his Hood followers can destroy their own town! Stay out of SKOKIE!!!
MySay2 June 14, 2012 at 11:10 PM
I think the safety of travel has to come before the obnoxious request that trucks alter their route as to not irritate a neighboring community. Lincolnwood residents and Mayor Turry should worry more about their village problems! Under Turry, the village looks like a DUMP, empty buildings, vacant huge land sites and mold infested hotels. Is it possible that TURRY is constantly looking for some cause to bitch about as a distraction since he will be running for re-election in April? Sounds like grandstanding to me!! Saftey and Community First Not Turry First!!
MySay2 June 14, 2012 at 11:14 PM
I heard the old Silo Site was also contaminated. I think theres quite a few contaminated sites in Lincolnwood. The difference between Skokie and Lincolnwood is ; Skokie cleans and repairs damage and Lincolnwood's past and current mayor just cause damage!
Skokie Mike June 14, 2012 at 11:17 PM
It's not just the grandstanding mayor - You're leaving out the goon residents that act like obnoxious children at open forums and school board meetings.
MySay2 June 14, 2012 at 11:19 PM
FYI Lincolnwood does flag down drivers passing through their village! Its usually on Pratt, I guess theyll just have to move over to Touhy. Can you imagine being told you can't drive South on Cicero?? How crazy are those Turry followers? They ruined their School District and now they are moving on to another cause. Soon they'll be trying to control the High School too. I hope Nicor and Skokie don't bow down to their bully behavior.
Go Huskers June 15, 2012 at 12:22 AM
You are so right! When are the GOOD people of Lincolnwood going to stand-up and fight back. Our housing prices are falling, who wants their kids in our ruined school district, who will want to support our small businesses, certainly not Skokie residents. Occupy Lincolnwood needs to come to an end. Somebody tell me what their fight is about this time...ruining the community.
George Slefo (Editor) June 15, 2012 at 12:24 AM
On a somewhat related note, there's been a recent termination at Lincolnwood School District 74. Check the site Friday morning for the scoop.
Go Huskers June 15, 2012 at 01:12 AM
George, thanks for informing the community. It seems that the School Board does not understand open communication. You might want to write a story on the iPad initiative...rumor is that program is dead too.
JC June 15, 2012 at 02:00 AM
Gotta be Nohelty. Between not knowing where the community's money is going, and abusing his power by having an in-district affair, he won't be missed by the community, or apparently even the faculty. So now that's Nohelty, Ruderman, Klaisner, Frankel. Koder out in the next election. Just leaves Davros and we can move on. The iPad initiative isn't dead, but with no tech team, there is no one to lead it. Apparently the enter IT team abandoned ship. My child has been told that they hope to continue it, but it may start later in the year for the next class of students.
JC June 15, 2012 at 02:10 AM
Husker, The GOOD people of Lincolnwood stood up to you and your short-lived reign. Housing prices have fallen everywhere. The schools aren't ruined- the teachers and staff at the schools have sheltered the school and most of the programs from most of the bickering. The schools are still great. Look to Skokie for your broken school districts. Turry is gone soon. Moy is going to walk all over him in the next election. Turry has expanded what? Lincolnwood's cultural worth? Bought a bunch of statues, put in a promenade where there is already a lack of parking, wasted money on their own little orchestra, let businesses rot, and played politics with the school district in order to look good?
Skokie Mike June 15, 2012 at 02:16 AM
@JC - i agree with a lot of what you said, but please don't say Skokie is the one with the broken school system. the mess IN LINCOLNWOOD was horrific to say the least. http://skokie.patch.com/articles/district-74-in-disarray
JC June 15, 2012 at 02:21 AM
Katie, While the numbers are accurate, you should also consider that Dempster from McCormick to the Expressway is about 2.6 miles, whereas it is only 2 miles at Touhy. Therefore, Dempster is objectively less congested.
JC June 15, 2012 at 02:31 AM
Skokie Mike, You can put SD74 against any of the neighboring Skokie schools any day of the week. As I said further up the page, The board and admin have been shaken to the core, but the schools, teachers, and staff are still servicing our community students as well as ever. And while there was waste and money lost, at least we aren't wasting money on FIVE different districts in one community. FIVE different administration teams. You want to cut waste in Skokie and lower your taxes? Consolidate your schools into a single district with five principals instead of superintendents. Skokie can never look down on LW schools, even through the recent turmoil.
Katie Gudgel June 15, 2012 at 11:31 AM
The traffic density is about the same. The measurements are number of cars per hour over what looks to be about one mile stretches. So, there are two measurements (30,600 and 26,000) for Touhy, but 3 for that stretch of Dempster and one for McCormick (that they would have to drive on as well). So, do they drive and add the same amount of additional traffic on 2 miles of Touhy and 0.5 mile of McCormick (2.5 total miles), or 1.5 miles of McCormick and 3 miles of Dempster (4.5 miles total)?
Earl Weiss June 15, 2012 at 11:39 AM
219 is as broken as any as is 73.5. One minute theyr are broke and need to raise taxes and the next they spend like drunken sailors. It's a myth that fewer districts will trim adminsistrative costs. Just check out 219 and see how many "Assistant" admiinistrators one district has.
JC June 15, 2012 at 12:34 PM
Earl, Your "myth" is your opinion, and neither accurate nor representative of this area. It is a myth that a high school operates the same way as an elementary district. Maine Township, Evanston, Des Plaines, Wilmette: each of these has consolidated elementary districts with fewer administrators. 219 has its own problems, especially that it gets more money than its feeder districts, where the education begins.
Earl Weiss June 15, 2012 at 02:53 PM
"Earl, Your "myth" is your opinion, and neither accurate nor representative of this area. It is a myth that a high school operates the same way as an elementary district. Maine Township, Evanston, Des Plaines, Wilmette: each of these has consolidated elementary districts with fewer administrators. 219 has its own problems" Wait I'm confused? You are claiming what I said is "A Myth" except that with 219 it's a reality? 73.5 also has a boatload of administrators. I am glad you have faith that the beaurocrats would streamline operations under consolidatioI have no such faith. Nothiong in the districts has ever lead me to believe this will happen. I'd like to see examples of where it happened. The former Super of 219 championed this same cost cutting theory. Not long before he was the literal front page poster child for spending excess.
Mike from Skokie June 15, 2012 at 05:12 PM
40 year resident of Skokie I think politics are what drives all this B.S. truly any improvements that help to improve the enviornment are welcomed by all now and for future generations. This is a blip in time as far as traffic is concerned. Grandstanding by th LW Mayor is a joke . Gee what did he say when he was just a resident when lincolnwood town center was being built and the demolition of Ditto company property happened and soil remediation was needed and trucks were driving 24 hours a day from all directions. Let's get real and support all improvements weather it's Lincolnwood or Skokie even Niles and Morton Grove. Let's move on and stop wasting time. LW shouldn't be jealous of the sports park I don' think it match's tax income that they get from the 2 major shopping centers they have.'
Nasia July 23, 2012 at 01:46 AM
I beg to differ with you here, George. I live 2 blocks from where Carter was killed. It had nothing to do with "safety", it had to do with a woman who was wasted out of her skull, was known to be a drug user and who caused a tragic accident. Meanwhile, my parents and neighbors have been writing to Skokie village for over THREE years to get a stop sign put up on the intersection (Keeler and Brummel) where people dive 45 MPH down the street with children present and it has been the site of many accidents. They have been ignored. People drive down the 8300-8400 block of Christiana doing 40 mph to avoid McCormick in spite of kids all over and school buses and a pack of drug dealers (I call at least once a week...) holding court on Main and McCormick, using the alleys to speed down or sell. McCormick is backed up like a parking lot from 2 pm to pm, from Pratt well past Main street complete with the same 4 homeless people working the corner of Touhy and McCormick in shifts almost every day, in shifts, and yet this is the route they want to put all this truck traffic on? Skokie might be looking to improve road safety but they aren't looking very hard. Talk is cheap. It doesn't take a committee and all this yapping to 'fix' safety. Ask any of the residents. Or do we just wait for a toxic spill, or the death of someone, or when the gunshots coming from across the canal to call attention to it?

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