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Pilsen, Little Village, Back of the Yards

Little Village Neighbors To Talk Botched Demolition At Virtual Meeting Thursday

The meeting is hosted by the Little Village Environmental Justice Organization, an environmental group urging developer Hilco to abandon the site.

Dust flies up in the air at the Crawford Coal Plant at 3501 S. Pulaski Rd. moments after its smoke stack is imploded on Saturday, April 11, 2020 in Chicago, Illinois.
Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
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LITTLE VILLAGE — The Little Village Environmental Justice Organization will host a virtual community meeting Thursday to discuss the botched demolition that left Little Village covered in dust last month.

The meeting, from 6-7:15 p.m. on the group’s Facebook page, will break down information the city has provided to neighbors since Hilco Redevelopment Partners demolished the old Crawford Coal Plant smokestack April 11. 

A Spanish-language meeting will take place at 6 p.m. Tuesday, May 19.

The meetings, originally set for Wednesday and Thursday night, were postponed after the mayor announced a Spanish-language town hall in partnership with Little Village groups to discuss COVID-19 on Wednesday night.

Ahead of last month’s implosion, the Little Village Environmental Organization begged city officials to postpone the demolition until after the coronavirus pandemic. But the city allowed the developer to proceed anyway and the bungled operation shrouded Little Village homes in dust.

RELATED: Planned Explosion Covered Little Village In Dust During Respiratory Pandemic — Why Did The City Let It Happen? 

Following the demolition, city officials issued a stop-work order at the site and hit the company with $68,000 in fines. The company’s contractor, Heneghan Wrecking, has been allowed to clean up demolition debris at the site.

The Little Village environmental group and some neighbors have called on city officials to rescind a $19.7 million tax break for the project. They have also called for the Hilco to abandon its plans to build a one million-square warehouse at the former Crawford Coal Plant.

Credit: Maclovio/ instagram@macnifying_glass
Little Village streets were covered in dust following demolition of a smokestack at the site early Saturday morning.

Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul is now suing Hilco over the implosion, saying the company failed to protect the surrounding community from air pollution.

Hilco faces two other lawsuits from residents following the implosion, as well as a wrongful death suit after a worker plummeted to his death.

After the implosion, Kim Wasserman, executive director of Little Village Environmental Justice Organization, said residents who live near industrial areas have no power to reject development that puts their health at risk.

That needs to change, she said.

“This isn’t a ‘bad apple’ problem,” Wasserman said. “Community harm is stemming from one broken, corrupt, racist system. This is a system that cannot be redeemed and these are ethical failures by public servants that cannot be overlooked by our communities any longer.”

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