HOOPESTON — Douglas Toole, director of the Vermilion County Health Department, and Patrick Sloan, client director of Foth Infrastructure & Enviroment, LLC, updated city council members Tuesday on two sites identified as Brownfield sites.
Toole said the Essex Building and Vermilion Iron were identified as contaminated sites, however, it was unclear at this point who owned the buildings. Both sites are vacant and falling in, he said, and added he had to get a search warrant in order to enter the building sites to identify problems.
Toole posed a suggestion to the council. “Think about the possibility and opportunities to Hoopeston if Hoopeston stepped in and took ownership of both properties.”
He added council members should think about the safety of the community. It takes little effort to enter both buildings with the doors left open, Toole said, especially at Vermilion Iron with the Little League field nearby and where children play.
Alderman Bill Goodwine commented about the cost to Hoopeston if it took control of the properties and remediated them. “You are talking about a couple million dollars,” he said.
“We have to quit looking the other way,” said Mayor Bill Crusinberry. “We can’t let the town keep deteriorating.”
Bill Nichols, Community Bank president and economic development member, agreed, “Blight is taking over our town like a cancer. Pretty soon if we don’t take care of our town, who is going to be here.”
If Hoopeston does not take possession of the two sites, it might be years before the owners could be found to get the problem solved, according to Toole. The Essex building, he said, was sold to a Decatur business for taxes, however, he added there was a way for the city to obtain it. If the place were condemned by the city, it could take over the building in lieu of foreclosure.