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August 21, 2023
FORMER ILLINOIS EPA DIRECTOR TAPPED TO OVERSEE CLEANUP OF FORMER TINLEY PARK MENTAL HEALTH SITE
Tinley Park-Park District Announces Experts to Lead Cleanup of Former Tinley Park Mental Health Center Property
TINLEY PARK, Ill. – The Board of Commissioners of the Park District of Tinley Park today announced the former director of the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency and one of the state’s top environmental attorneys have been tapped to lead cleanup efforts at the site of the former Tinley Park Mental Health Center, once the Park District takes ownership of the long-vacant and blighted property.
Tapped to lead remediation efforts are Renee Cipriano, the former head of the IEPA under two former governors, as well as Elizabeth S. Harvey, an environmental attorney with Swanson, Martin & Bell, LLP. Their expertise will guide the Park District as it engages in an updated environmental study of the property and begins cleanup work to pave the way for redevelopment of the property. The work will be funded through a $15 million state grant that was awarded to the Park District in this year’s fiscal year state budget.
The announcement follows Gov. Pritzker’s signing into law House Bill 3743 to transfer the site of the former Tinley Park Mental Health Center to the Park District for $1 to create a hub of fully accessible athletic and recreational opportunities and green space for the entire south suburban region. With Pritzker signing the bill into law, the Park District is now working through steps to officially own the property, including effectuating the land transfer.
“We are thrilled to bring aboard a team of experienced experts to lead our efforts to finally clean up this eyesore in our community,” said Bernie O’Boyle, Park District Commissioner. “I am sure I join many Tinley Park residents who are anxious to see this land cleaned up, and we are ready to get to work.”
Under the new law, the Park District saved Tinley Park taxpayers over $4.5 million to purchase the site, which the Village of Tinley Park had previously offered to pay for the property, in addition to gaining the $15 million in state funding.
“As a resident of Tinley Park for over 30 years, I’m looking forward to finally cleaning up this site that has sat vacant and overgrown for too long,” said Donald Cuba, Park District Commissioner. “Once cleanup is complete, we are excited to redevelop the land to provide expanded opportunities to recreate and visit Tinley Park.”
Renee Cipriano served as director of the IEPA from 2001-2005. She previously served as the state’s Senior Advisor on Environment and Natural Resources and as an Illinois assistant attorney general. Cipriano has received numerous national and state recognitions for her work including be named Lawyer of the Year for Environmental Law in Illinois by The Best Lawyers in America.
Elizabeth S. Harvey has practiced environmental law for more than 30 years. She has extensive experience in cases involving contaminated property and groundwater, including Superfund/CERCLA litigation, RCRA litigation, and private cost recovery actions under state and federal law. Harvey is also experienced in matters involving the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act and their state counterparts; and in the defense and litigation of enforcement actions by environmental agencies including the U.S. EPA and IEPA. Harvey’s clients include governmental entities, large and small corporations, and small businesses. Prior to entering private practice, Harvey was the attorney for a member of the Illinois Pollution Control Board and served as a hearing officer for that board.
Last November, the Park District formally bid on the property, 7400-7600 W. 183rd St., and laid out its Phase 1 vision for redevelopment to meet the needs of Tinley Park residents and the entire south suburban area. Phase 1 includes a playground and sports facilities fully accessible through universal design for people living with special needs, multipurpose athletic fields, a domed sports complex with a full-size soccer field, a stadium with a track, a splash pad, concession stands, spectator stands, lighting, ample parking, as well as a pond, picnic areas and open green space. Since the plan was released to the public, it has gained widespread community support and private developer interest. Importantly, under this new law, all forms of gaming are prohibited at the site, which supports the feedback of residents.
More information and updates about the Park District’s Phase 1 plans can be found on its website.