Chicago, IL

Construction Stopped at Chicago's Brighton Park Migrant Camp Pending Further Environmental Review

Natalie Frank, Ph.D.

Although Chicago Mayor claims 800 page environmental report attests to safety, several toxic, carcinogenic substances found at site
Photo byScreen Capture/Youtube Video [Creator]

Construction at a migrant shelter on the Southwest Side of Chicago came to a standstill just hours after city officials assured the public of its safety for temporary residential use.

The focal point of the dispute lies in the vacant lot situated at 38th Street and California Avenue, where constant protests from residents and the revelation of elevated mercury and contaminant levels sparked considerable debate.

Following revelations of soil contamination, a state official said that construction of the migrant camp is on hold pending a review by the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency.

The city of Chicago, in response to concerns, enlisted Terracon Consultants, Inc. to conduct a comprehensive soil investigation. The subsequent report revealed the presence of mercury, arcenic and other toxins and carcinogens in the soil, prompting city officials to take swift action in removing and safely disposing of the contaminated soil. In once case they covered over the area saying it was sealed. Their assurance is that the site is now deemed safe for temporary residential use.

Despite this, local residents, citing zoning discrepancies and the site's historical industrial use, continue to voice opposition to the project through protests, arguing that the soil remains toxic.

City officials, while refraining from disclosing a move-in date for migrants, have previously asserted that once construction commences, the encampment will be ready in a matter of days.

The construction, managed by Canadian-based security firm GardaWorld Federal Services, involves the creation of temperature-controlled structures equipped with bathrooms, showers, and a mobile kitchen. The city incurs a monthly lease cost of nearly $92,000 for the lot, adding to the $29 million contract signed with GardaWorld in September.

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Chicago, IL

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