Signs of the Times: A Message from Douglass Park Resident to a Toxic Neighbor

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THE PROBLEM WITH THE SITE at 5th and Hill is
clear: we need to get the site cleaned up.
Until it is cleaned up, we have to let people
know what that site is. We have young kids
that live around here, and we have people we
care about who live around here. Some of the
contaminants at that site can cause cancer,
and we don’t want our families to get cancer.
That’s the most important thing to me and to
the community. That’s why we want to get
this stuff cleaned up. That’s why we want
people to know about the contamination.
The people who live around here told the
Illinois EPA to put up new signs at the site
earlier this year. We wanted signs that
would tell people that the site is what it is—
a contaminated site. And they never did
that. They never put up
signs that said anything
about contamination. So,
my idea was this: since
they’re taking their time
putting up new signs and
since they’re not putting
up the right signs, let’s put
up our own signs to show
them we mean business.
What did EPA’s refusal
to put up better signs
mean to us? It meant that
we were disrespected—it was very disrespectful.
They did finally put up some new
signs, but these new signs still do not say
anything about the contamination and the
possible danger over there. We’ve seen kids
over there in the past and they need to
know that the site is contaminated.
If you look at the
fence right now, the proper
signs are not up. Right now,
they have “no trespassing”
signs. I can have a no trespassing
sign on my yard,
and kids will still come into
the yard. A “no trespassing
sign” doesn’t really mean
anything. It’s not a strong
enough message. The signs
need to tell people about the
That is why we came together to show
our awareness and concern about the contamination
at that sight, and the concerns we
have about people’s health in our neighborhood.
That is why we made our own signs.
Why was making these signs so important?
It was so important, and it worked out
so well, because the community came
through to do something we wanted to do.
We all pulled together to make these signs
and put up these signs. That in itself was
important. How do I feel when I see our
signs up in the neighborhood? I feel glad
because these signs let Ameren and the Illinois
EPA know that we mean business.
You can’t just

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