Mayor Emanuel Appoints Pilsen Alliance to the Reuse Task Force for Chicago’s Last Two Coal Plant Sites

Thursday April 26 2012

Other Stakeholders in the Committee Include Aldermen, Labor,
Other Not-for-profits and Utility Representation

Mayor Rahm Emanuel moved ahead on his plan to find new uses for the sites of Chicago’s last two coal-fueled power plants, convening an advisory board to help find alternatives. Pilsen Alliance Executive Director Nelson Soza has been invited to participate on the board in representation of the community.

“Pilsen residents appreciate the mayor’s actions on the key public health issue of air pollution,” said Rosalie Mancera, Pilsen Alliance board member. “Pilsen Alliance members are excited and ready to help find healthy alternatives that serve their neighborhood, particularly jobs and economic opportunities for Pilsen residents.”

The “Fisk and Crawford Reuse Task Force” is the next step in the mayor’s remediation and reuse strategy for the soon-to-be-idle coal plants. Under an agreement reached at the end of February between the city, plant operator Midwest Generation and the Clean Power Coalition, the Fisk plant in Pilsen will cease operations at the end of this year, and the Crawford plant, in Little Village, by the end of 2014. The council’s task is to assess the sites and to search for employment and economic development opportunities to replace the plants, all while involving the communities in the process.

The advisory council process will be facilitated by the Delta Institute, a local nonprofit with vast experience in brown field remediation. The committee will be supported by the Joyce Foundation and Sierra Club, both of which have committed up to $50,000 to fund the process.

“We need development that includes our neighbors in all aspects, from the input to the benefits,” Mancera said. “We will do all we can to make this happen in this case; this opportunity will not come twice.”

The advisory council is made up of nine members. The remaining eight members of the council are Aldermen Daniel Solis (25) and Ricardo Muñoz (22), Tom Villanova, President of the Chicago Building Trades Council, Jerry Mead-Lucero, with the environmental group PERRO, Kim Wasserman-Nieto, with the environmental group LVEJO, Doug McFarland, Midwest Generation’s Senior Vice President of Public Affairs & Communications, Bill McNeil, ComEd’s Vice President of Energy Acquisition, and Kathleen Dickhut from Chicago’s Department of Housing and Economic Development.

Pilsen Alliance is a grassroots community organization founded in Pilsen in 1998. The organization works on any issue affecting neighborhood residents. Pilsen Alliance is a member of the coordinating committee of the Chicago Clean Power Coalition, a group of environmental, health and community organizations working together to eliminate dangerous sources of airborne pollution. The shutting down of the plants signals a big victory in the effort.