Transforming an environmental hazard in Little Village into a recreational gem

The property on the 2800 block of South Sacramento Avenue used to be a mess. It once was the site of a chemical company, where over time, the soil was contaminated with toxic substances known as PAHs, an acronym for polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. PAHs form when coal, wood, gas or garbage burn, and the substances can attach to soil particles and remain for an indefinite amount of time. Such sites are referred to as “brownfields.”

Stretching from the late 1960s to the early 1980s,...

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