When I was looking over the Riverside Swim Club plans for the Zoning and Planning Commission meeting this week, I remembered a conversation I had with a longtime Riverside resident concerning the swim club site. He said that it had been a coal storage yard when he was growing up in the 1940s and ’50s.

For your convenience I am attaching a 1930 Sanford map of this site from the University of Illinois library, showing the coal yard previously located there. The 1950 Sanford map shows the coal yard as well.

I think a hazmat survey needs to be done before the Planning and Zoning Commission starts the review of these plans in case there are any environmental issues with the site, which would necessitate changes to the plans.

Since the EPA wasn’t established until 1970 and the swim club was built prior to 1970, I think it is safe to assume that no remediation was done to the site at that time and that the soil may contain hazardous contaminants.

The demolition of the pool site and the excavations for the new facility could release any remaining contaminants into the air. With the proximity of the central business district with the outdoor dining at our restaurants and to Central Elementary and Hauser Junior High School, residents could be exposed to hazardous airborne contaminants.

While the Sanford map may not be conclusive, I don’t think you can disregard it. When I compared it with a Google map of the site, it really looks like my friend was correct and that the swim club was built where the coal facility used to be. There may be other Riverside residents who remember this.

Jacquelyn Paine



Ed. note: According to Riverside Community Development Director Sonya Abt, “The consultants for the swim club did conduct an environmental assessment of the site and building as well as some geotechnical testing of the site and have an IEPA Uncontaminated Soil Certification.”