As of March 2018, there is a hot mix asphalt plant located at 2055 West Pershing Avenue.
The company that built the plant is called MAT Asphalt. It was built quietly, with no public notice or community meetings. The owner of the plant, Michael Tadin Jr, is a politically connected contractor who does work for the City of Chicago. So is his father, Michael Tadin Sr., who was at the center of the Hired Truck scandal under Mayor Daley.
Beginning in 2015, companies connected to the asphalt plant gave tens of thousands of dollars to 12th Ward Alderman George Cardenas (the plant is in the 12th ward). Ironically, Cardenas is the chair of the City Council’s Health and Environment Committee. In March of 2017, Cardenas helped MAT Asphalt get some property near the plant re-zoned, from residential to mixed-commercial, so that the asphalt plant wouldn’t be too close to a residential parcel. Because it’s located in the old Central Manufacturing District, the plant itself did not require a zoning change. Ald. Cardenas did not notify his constituents about any of this.
That summer MAT Asphalt applied to the Illinois EPA for a permit. The IEPA was supposed to do a thorough Environmental Justice review that involved making fact sheets, holding meetings, and reaching out to the community. They didn’t. We know, because N4EJ filed a FOIA request for their emails.
The IEPA emails show that the process was basically forgotten and then rushed through at the last minute. No meetings were held, no community groups were contacted – not the McKinley Park Advisory Council, not the McKinley Park Development Council, not the McKinley Park Civic Association. The IEPA was legally obligated to send out a letter about the permit, but the only official who confirmed they received it is Ald. Cardenas.
Then the IEPA issued a construction permit allowing MAT Asphalt to build the plant and operate for a year, producing up to 890,000 tons of asphalt. And MAT Asphalt built the plant.
Residents of McKinley Park did not find out what was happening until March of 2018, after the plant was already built, shortly before it was scheduled to open. We responded by calling public meetings, buying air monitors and forming a new community group: Neighbors For Environmental Justice (N4EJ).
WHAT WE WANT
We want the MAT Asphalt plant to be shut down. (Sign the petition!)
We want the IEPA to deny MAT Asphalt an operating permit. (Help by reporting odor nuisance)
We want McKinley Park and all the neighborhoods around it to have clean air, clean water, and safe, accessible public green spaces.
We want a say in how our community is developed. We don’t want the mayor and the alderman using the old Central Manufacturing District as a shortcut for industrial development, or a dumping ground for the north side’s unwanted industry.
We want to know what’s going on, and we want to be sure that nothing like this happens again.
WHAT WE’RE DOING
- Collecting pollution data from a network of air monitors, to hold the plant accountable
- Meeting with elected officials to talk about preventing similar developments and strengthening the environmental review process
- Connecting with other groups and affected communities, like LVEJO in Little Village, so we can learn from and strengthen each others’ efforts