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     May 25, 2017      #73-144 a2z
A four foot high pile of tree trimmings and logs left along the side 6000N Road.

Who's illegally dumping near the state park?

Allison Shapiro 

The land to the north of the Bourbonnais Parkway was going to be paradise.

The primary plans for the Rhapsody Cove Subdivision were filed with the county in 2006, and they were ambitious. The 243 acres of land were to feature 107 homes, protected wetlands around Traders Creek, a 17-acre family park, 5 miles of trails and even ponds for fishing.

“It’s not far from (Illinois Route) 102, it has farm acres all around it; it has the stream. It could be done beautifully. They put out a big advertising program,” said Mary Wilkey, a longtime resident of the area who didn’t support the Rhapsody Cove development.

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When the financial crisis hit, the plans fell apart, and the land went to a bank, which left it empty. This land north of Route 102, at the intersection of 4150W Road and the Bourbonnais Parkway, has been a dumping ground since at least the 1950s, but, suddenly, it got worse. People left bags of construction waste, tires, old electronics and even hot tubs, then drove away. Residents in the farmhouses nearby moved into action.

“That’s on our dime. We gotta pick it up; we gotta take it to town; we have to dispose of it properly,” said Barry Wilkey, Mary’s son and a neighborhood activist. “A little bit of community awareness and a little bit of signage would go a long way to preserving the area where the Indians used to be and preserving a beautiful area.”

With Traders Creek nearby, residents fear the pollution will spread to their water supply. Bourbonnais Parkway, also known as 6000N Road, is a dirt road. On clear nights, it becomes a hub of activity for partiers and 4-wheelers.

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“The sheriff’s department did what they could do. They came out and all that kind of thing,” said Wilkey. “But unless you are actually are a person in authority, and you are on site, and you take a photograph and you have a license plate number ... there are certain protocols that must be in place before you can prosecute people for this.”

As a carpenter, resident Jeff Turner also is particularly frustrated by the bags of construction garbage he finds.

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“That’s what gets me so bad,” said Turner, who has lived in the neighborhood for 10 years. “Most of the time, I think it’s local handymen doing it. It’s always house garbage or construction garbage and tubs. We go through hundreds of dumpsters a year in our company and we never once think of throwing something by the side of the road.”

Mike Roach purchased the land from the bank in February and began the long project of cleaning it up.

“It’s a shame what people have done,” Roach said. “We just don’t have the money to fight it. I’ll go out there, and I’ll try to clean it up, and every time I go out there, somebody else is dumping. It’s really, really bad. It really is.”

Roach can take care of the land he owns, but not the roads themselves or the land immediately adjoining them. While it’s right on the border of Bourbonnais and Rockville townships, the stretch of the Bourbonnais Parkway that’s a dumping hub falls under the purview of Rockville.

Rockville Township Highway Commissioner Jon Whitten calls the Bourbonnais Parkway a “hot spot” and says the cash-strapped township is looking into a cost-effective solution.

“There’s also been talk of possibly putting up surveillance cameras. I think those would probably do more good than fines,” he said. “Fines, people tend to look around, and if there isn’t a police officer around they tend to ignore them.”

Whitten expects a cost assessment within 30 days, and says the township will move forward then. In the meantime, he only can clean up the ever-growing mess. He had just totaled up the costs for an April cleanup and found they exceeded $6,000.

“I could send a crew every day to pick it up,” he said. “You could clean it up all night and it’s spotless, and then you go out there at 8 a.m., and there’s another truckload of crap.”​

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