Chicago’s mayor halted all non-emergency demolition Sunday after destruction of a defunct coal plant’s smokestack a day earlier covered a southwest side neighborhood in dust.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot said at an Easter morning news conference that the city would hand out masks to residents living near the site of the former Crawford Coal Plant. She demanded that the company doing the demolition clean cars and property too.
Alderman Michael Rodriguez, whose ward includes the affected Little Village neighborhood, said the demolition’s impact only “exasperated” residents who are already afraid of respiratory problems from COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus.
Rodriguez said that before Saturday’s demolition, Hilco Redevelopment Partners, which bought the property in 2017, assured him that no dust would leave the site and failed to fulfill a promise to alert neighbors to the work.
No one from Hilco responded Sunday to a phone call or email.
LIghtfoot called the incident “unacceptable.” The mayor said city officials are testing dust to determine what particles were released and will monitor air quality on the site and nearby.
While a city review is underway, Lightfoot said the Department of Buildings has barred all non-emergency demolitions for the week.