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Hilco pulls fueling center from Little Village warehouse plans; city to limit truck traffic to Pulaski Road

Kim Wasserman of the Little Village Environmental Justice Organization, said the change means less truck traffic in the neighborhood, though she still worries about air pollution.

Un grupo de más de 20 manifestantes se reunieron en la cuadra de Lightfoot para protestar la decisión de la ciudad de permitir que la empresa Hilco realizara otra demolición.
Rafael Cervantes, 72, of Little Village, protests against Hilco near the site of the closed Crawford power plant near West 33rd Street and South Pulaski Road, Thursday afternoon, May 7, 2020. 
Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times

Community organizers in Little Village said Friday some recent concessions from the developer of a warehouse project are a small victory, but more remains to be done.

Hilco Redevelopment Partners is building the Target warehouse and distribution center on the former site of the Crawford Power Generation Station. Revisions were submitted to the city earlier this year, and the city’s Department of Planning and Development approved those changes on the last week of February, according to city documents.

The most significant change is eliminating an on-site fueling center that would have included a 2,500-gallon fuel tank. The city also put in writing that trucks must use only Pulaski Road between the distribution center and Interstate 55.

City Council approval wasn’t needed for those changes because they are considered minor alterations, a city spokesman said Friday.

Gary Epstein, executive vice president of Hilco, said the plan always was for trucks to use Pulaski.

“We have worked very closely with stakeholders to design incoming and outgoing traffic routes that eliminate the need for trucks to use residential streets,” Epstein said. “Additionally, we’ve worked closely with our tenant on the updated design of this state-of-the art facility which included the removal of the fuel tank.”

Anthony Gonzalez of the community group Mi Villita believes their efforts led to the fuel tank’s removal, and “though it is small, it is still a big win for us,” he said.

“There is still a fight to be had, but wins like this are giving hope to our community,” Gonzalez added. “We see a lot of trucks disregarding signs and driving through residential streets, so we hope these trucks do what is required of them and stick to Pulaski.”

Kim Wasserman, executive director of Little Village Environmental Justice Organization, said the change in truck routing is good news, but she still worries about the concentration of air pollution the trucks will create along Pulaski — pollution that will blow into the community, she said.

“It’s a small win,” Wasserman said about the truck route. “But it brings up a new problem.”

Hilco has faced steep opposition from some in the community over its plans.

Last year, the botched implosion of a smokestack on the site blanketed Little Village in dust. Hilco and its two contractors settled a $370,000 lawsuit brought by the state over air pollution violations.

The implosion of a 95-year-old smokestack in Little Village blanketed the surrounding area in a cloud of dust, but testing of particulate matter, dust and soil composition and building debris, conducted by the Chicago Department of Public Health and U. S. Environmental Protection Agency showed “no apparent health risk to the surrounding community,” the city announced Monday.
The implosion of a 95-year-old smokestack in Little Village in April 2020 blanketed the surrounding area in a cloud of dust,
Tyler Laiviere/Sun-Times