Officials praise agreement on clean-up of engine plant site

Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen speaks while Kenosha Mayor Keith Bosman looks on.

City, state and federal officials praised the agreement for the clean-up of the former Chrysler Engine Plant site at 30th Avenue and 60th Street at a press conference today.

There was not a lot of new information from the previous announcement of the agreement being reached. However, city officials did emphasize that clearing the site of buildings would not cost city taxpayers.

The press conference was held at the Kenosha Civil War Museum, another redeveloped industrial brownfield site.

“It’s certainly not the end,” said Mayor Keith Bosman. “It’s more of a beginning.”

Serious work on the agreement — which involves a role for the city, the bankruptcy trust that now owns the building, the state Justice Department and the Department of Natural Resources and the federal Environmental Protection Agency — began about a week and a half ago, Bosman said.

County supervisor Michael Underhill (center by window) address a press conference on the clean-up of the former Chrysler Engine Plant site.

“The city has been very aggressive to pull all of the parties together,” Bosman said.

The agreement will provide $10 million in federal Troubled Asset Relief Program funds for environmental clean-up of the site. All buildings on the site will be demolished at no cost to the city, Bosman said.

“I think what we have is a win-win-win,” Bosman said.

Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen also praised the cooperation represented by the agreement.

“It is really a tremendous example,” Van Hollen said.

Wisconsin DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp and EPA Director of Region 5 RCRA Program Margaret Guerrierro also spoke at the press conference.

Two audience members not from the media also spoke at the conference.

Michael Underhill, a former Chrysler union electrician and a current county supervisor from the Paddock Lake area, criticized the celebratory tone of the afternoon when the jobs from the plant have not been replaced.

“I’m glad we got clean water,” Underhill said referring to the arrangements regarding environmental clean-up of the site, “but there won’t be anyone here to drink the water.”

Another audience member asked why all of the buildings on the site, including one that was only 10 years old, had to be demolished. Bosman explained that research showed the site would no longer be marketable as a location for heavy industry. Preliminary plans call for a mix of retail, parks and residential for the 106-acre site. That is the same sort of development that took place at the recovered site of another auto plant on the lake front and the American Brass site in the uptown neighborhood.

Once started, Bosman estimated demolition of all of the buildings on the site to take 18 months. When they are all demolished, the city can then exercise its option to take title to the property.

Here’s video of Bosman’s comments:

Here’s video of Van Hollen’s comments:

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