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Tinley Park-Park District forms resident advisory committee on mental health center property cleanup

The SouthtownStar - 11/6/2023

Nov. 6—Nine Tinley Park residents were named to a committee to advise the Tinley Park-Park District on the environmental cleanup of the former mental health center property proposed to be redeveloped for recreational uses.

The committee, created Nov. 1, comes as the district is still several weeks away from gaining control from the state of the 280-acre site, northwest of Harlem Avenue and 183rd Street.

The property encompasses the shuttered Tinley Park Mental Health hospital and adjacent Howe Developmental Center. The district initially plans to redevelop 90 acres.

"The goal was to pull in people who have an interest in the Park District and the redevelopment," said Maura Possley, spokeswoman for the district.

Park Board member Lisa O'Donovan will chair the committee and member Ashley Rubino is co-chair. Other committee members are Tana Burhans, Bill Devine, John Gorajski, Amjad Haj, Dan McAllister, Melissa Sanfilippo, Rona Szabo, Carmelita Wagner and Sylvester Wilson.

The committee will meet regularly and advise the full board on the process of getting the property ready for redevelopment.

The state, under legislation signed into law in August by Gov. J.B. Pritzker, will sell the property to the district for $1. The district is working on the sale with the state's Department of Central Management Services, which controls the property.

The state budget allocated $15 million to the district to demolish buildings and clean up environmental hazards, including asbestos, black mold, some soil contamination and possibly leaking underground storage tanks.

The district is working with the firm Tetra Tech to update a study it did for Tinley Park in 2014, which at the time estimated the cost to clean up any contamination and demolish the 45 structures on the property at $12.4 million.

The Park Board also approved a contract with Homer Tree Service for $230,000, to clear some vegetation on the property so soil samples can be taken as part of the Tetra Tech assessment.

Although the district doesn't yet own the property, it is securing access agreements with CMS so Tetra Tech can begin its evaluation.

The district expects to become owner by the end of the year, with the transfer happening at about the same time as the grant funding arrives.

mnolan@tribpub.com

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