Nov. 14 Hearings Set on Brownfield Redevelopment

Will County Board Graphic

Will County residents will have the opportunity to weigh in on addressing redevelopment of old industrial sites in Joliet, Lockport and Rockdale at two public hearings set for November 14.
The Will County Center for Economic Development is hosting the meetings, scheduled for 4 to 5:30 p.m. Nov. 14, in the Burnham Room of the Joliet Public Library, 150 N. Ottawa St., Joliet; and from 9 to 10:30 a.m. that day at Lockport City Hall, 222 E. Ninth St., Lockport.
The Will County CED was awarded a $400,000 USEPA Assessment Grant to complete site assessments in three targeted areas and others that will be identified during community outreach activity.
The targeted areas are:
• The Near East Side of Joliet (Census Tract (CT) 8813.02) is a 102-acre area adjacent to the Des Plaines River and directly south of the abandoned Old Joliet Prison. The dilapidated prison has been a source of criminal activity for years, including trespassing and arson. The historically industrial use of the area is primarily vacant today.
• The Canal Road Area of Lockport (CT 8807.02) is a 1-square mile area along the Des Plaines River that has been historically used as junkyards and construction and storage-based businesses.
• Rockdale (population of 1,979) is a 0.79-square mile city that has been historically an industrial town where many properties were used for manufacturing during WWII and have been left abandoned and dilapidated.

These three target areas were selected due to: (1) high underserved minority population; (2) high number of identified and potential brownfield sites; (3) proximity to existing redevelopment projects; (4) existing economic development strategies and revitalization plans; and (5) proximity to five federally designated Opportunity Zones (OZ) with environmental justice inadequacies.
In the late 1800s Will County became known for mining and then steel production. In the early 1900s, the region’s economic base shifted from coal and limestone mining to steel production. In the early 1930s, the region shifted again to refinery development and soon after WWII military production.
In the 1970s and 1980s, the area known as the “rust belt” suffered changing economic conditions. Large manufacturers like the Joliet Army Ammunition Plant, US Steel, and Caterpillar closed.
Brownfield redevelopment has been targeted to address environmental and human health issues left in blighted areas left behind by closure of industrial developments, which were often located along Will County’s waterways. Redevelopment will encourage growth in abandoned, historically industrial sections of the County’s communities. Note: This program grant does not fund demolition, remediation, or cleanup activities. However, the reports generated through this program can be utilized to secure other grant funding for these activities.
The mission of the Will County Brownfield Assessment Grant Program is to:
• Minimize exposure to contamination to sensitive populations in the Target Areas and elsewhere in Will County;
• Increase productive site reuse of the historical industrial/commercial properties; and
• Facilitate growth and quality of life improvement of the Target Areas and elsewhere in Will County by addressing environmental and human health factors.
Additional grant and meeting information can be found at


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