City moves forward with scrapyard property

March 12, 2019

DIXON – The city is one step closer to taking control of Dixon Iron & Metal Co., which would open the door to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency doing up to $2 million of cleanup at the site.

In October, the city terminated its contract to buy the scrapyard at 78 Monroe Ave. because of an excessive degree of contamination found there. It then filed for abandonment of the property.

A Lee County judge recently declared the property abandoned, and so the city can take ownership as soon as next month, after the legal waiting period, Mayor Li Arellano Jr. said.

The city’s contract approved 2 years ago gave it exclusive rights to buy the property, and the City Council approved three contract extensions to allow for environmental testing.

The state EPA helped the city with the environmental assessment process, at no charge, and the council approved a $122,000 contract last year with Fehr Graham Engineering and Environmental to do further tests.

They found levels of heavy metals and polychlorinated biphenyl, or PCBs, that exceeded EPA standards, and the IEPA recommended the site to the federal agency for cleanup actions.

If the city gets control of the property, the feds could start remediation as soon as spring or early summer and provide up to $2 million in cleanup work, Arellano said.

“It’s a big deal for the cleanup and public safety of the town,” he said. “We’ve been trying to build up the riverfront and make it more beautiful, and taking care of this environmental challenge would be huge.”

Dixon Iron closed in late 2017 and was owned by Jim Pitchford since 2007.

The property is part of the Viaduct Point project, a partnership in which the city and the Lee County Industrial Development Association will work to secure about 10 acres of land stretching from the Peoria Avenue Bridge to the viaducts, to attract new development.