Former toxic dump in paintball promoter's sights

2012-07-30T18:16:00Z Former toxic dump in paintball promoter's sightsBy Steve Zabroski Times Correspondent
July 30, 2012 6:16 pm  • 

HAMMOND | A few details need to be addressed before a paintball park can open at a former North Hammond toxic dump site, officials have determined.

Griffith businessman Antonio X. Alvarez approached the Board of Public Works and Safety with a proposal to operate the recreational combat facility on 136th Street at the Illinois state line.

The adult playground wouldn't require much construction, Alvarez said, just some abandoned vehicles arranged as props on the property, which he said he bought in June at the Lake County tax sale.

The 11-acre site just south of Wolf Lake was once home to Calumet Containers, a company which recycled drums and barrels for the chemical, oil and steel industries, and dumped hundreds of thousands of gallons of toxic chemicals into the soil there before closing after a 1982 fire.

More than 10,000 gallons of hazardous waste and 30,000 tons of chemical drums and contaminated soil were subsequently removed from the property by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, at a cost of nearly $3 million.

City environmental officials said they have no information regarding the safety of the property for any use.

Zoning officials said the property is currently zoned for industrial use, a classification which would have to be changed if it were to be used for recreational purposes.

As of last week, records with the Lake County assessor's office indicated that the county still owns the site, officials said, which, as public property, would not carry any lien for back taxes.

Alvarez, whose Antonio Xavier Holdings Corp. owns several used car dealerships in Hammond, said he tried two years ago to open a paintball park on the city's southeast side at 177th Street, but that property was taken in an easement for the Little Calumet River levee project.

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