ROCKFORD – The Rockford Park District (RPD), State of Illinois, City of Loves Park, Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA), and Browning-Ferris Industries (BFI), Inc. have reached an agreement regarding remediation of the former Sand Park landfill. In 1990, the Rockford Park District was notified of the site issues, and now 25 years later, an agreed upon consent order has been reached. “Over all those years, the Rockford Park District remained focused on two objectives: public safety and the ability to create usable park space. Those two objectives were always top of mind, and we managed to complete them at the least possible cost to the taxpayer,” said Rockford Park District Executive Director Tim Dimke. History of Sand Park Landfill On May, 23, 1941, Rockford Park District purchased the 41-acre site for a nominal amount; at that time it had been used as a gravel pit. The City of Loves Park owns approximately 7.5 acres adjacent to Sand Park. In 1955, Loves Park officials requested use of the site for waste disposal, and the Rockford Park District board agreed to use part of the site as a landfill. In 1966, Rockford Disposal, Inc., owned by Browning-Ferris Industries, Inc. (BFI) took over the operation of Sand Park Landfill. In 1969, enough waste was removed from the site to ensure a safe foundation (or landfill cap) to open Sand Park Pool. In 1972, the site ceased being used as a landfill, and RPD began developing the site as a recreational area known as Sand Park. At that time, RPD was unaware of any environmental issues. In 1990, the Park District was notified of site issues, and since then has taken pro-active steps regarding certain remediation while also taking the lead in attempting to negotiate a settlement regarding the environmental issues associated with the former landfill site. At that time, it was determined that the landfill site had not been properly closed, but since the Park District owned the land, it was the District’s responsibility to take care of water and land remedies. The City of Loves Park adopted a Groundwater Ordinance on July 8, 2009, and along with the Rockford Park District, entered into a memorandum of understanding with the IEPA that prohibits the use of private potable water wells within a defined area. The Park District also conducted a private well survey, which identified all private wells within the ordinance area. All identified wells were abandoned and sealed in accordance with all applicable governmental requirements. The City of Loves Park completed municipal water connections and private well abandonment work at 37 residences and businesses within the ordinance area. A water main was installed, with additional street and parkway repairs, and the properties which had previously been supplied water from abandoned wells were connected to a municipal water main. All such construction activities were undertaken by the City of Loves Park, which was reimbursed by the Park District. “This has been a very lengthy process, but at no point in this process was this former landfill site allowed to pose any risk to our citizens, park, or pool users. In fact in 2002, a report issued by the United States Dept. of Health and Human Services stated that the site does not pose a risk to public health,” said Loves Park Mayor Darryl Lindberg. Future improvements to Sand Park Beginning in 2016, various site improvements will be made over a five-year period. Within the consent order, Sand Park improvements include: * Import soil and fill depressed areas of Sand Park * 2016 – Enhance storm water management systems along Browns Parkway * 2017 – The entire eastern portion of the site, including the driving range and sledding hill, will be converted to a nature preserve, as agreed to by the IEPA. This resulted in a cost savings of approximately $4 million. Fencing will be placed around the area to limit access and sustain the healthy growth of the prairie. Winter sledding can still be enjoyed at Twin Sisters Park, 3001 Harney Ct., Rockford, and Aldeen Park, 623 N. Alpine Road, Rockford, which are both free and open to the public when conditions are right. Additional outdoor winter opportunities are available at Gateway Parks at Alpine Hills Adventure Park, 4402 Larson Ave., Rockford. * 2018 – Remove existing Sand Park pool parking lot, and construct larger parking lot * 2019 – Reconstruct Heart Boulevard * 2020 – Relocate portions of any currently existing walking paths or sidewalks Initial costs for Sand Park site improvements were estimated to be $30 million, but remaining costs have been reduced to $8,239,883 thanks to attorneys, consulting engineers, and staff who worked together to create solutions that achieve the original goals and was agreed upon by IEPA. The District expects to recover $5 to $6 million between insurance and other recoveries, along with a $961,903 contribution from the City of Loves Park. Rockford Park District’s future capital improvements program will cover the remaining $2 to $3 million. “We are fully committed to fiscal integrity, and continue to be good stewards of public funds. Alternative revenue sources will help cover the improvement costs for the park, minimizing costs to taxpayers,” said Rockford Park District Executive Director Tim Dimke. For additional information please contact Gerry Karr, Supervising Attorney for Environmental Bureau, Office of the Illinois Attorney General at (312) 814-3369 or Vanessa Myers, IEPA Remedial Project Manager at (217) 558-6046.

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