Community, Local, Park Forest, Schools

A Little Good News About the Rich East Warehouse Storage?

flatbed truck loaded with material
A truck loaded with pallets of plastic foam leaves the parking lot of the former Rich East High School. (Photo John Hudzik)

Park Forest, IL-(ENEWSPF)- It appears that after two months of using the parking lots of the former Rich East High School in Park Forest as a storage area for a commercial warehouse under construction in Matteson, some of the materials are finally being removed. Flatbed trucks were seen last week being loaded with pallets of white foam and exiting the parking lots.

forklift loaded pallets of material on a flatbed truck
Workers load pallets of plastic foam on a flatbed truck in the former Rich East High School parking lot. (Photo John Hudzik)

While the materials removed so far are only a small portion of the storage, it does represent a positive sign for Park Forest residents concerned about the eyesore and the apparent lack of concern by High School District 227 officials, who have consistently refused to comment on the situation, even when served with a Freedom of Information Act request by eNews Park Forest.

It is unknown how long the removal of the material will take and whether all or just some of the foam pallets and roofing supplies are being relocated. The materials are being used in constructing a commercial warehouse in Matteson by Pepper Construction for the Texas development firm Crow Holdings.

The Village of Park Forest was initially told in early October that the materials stored at Rich East were to be used for re-roofing the district high schools. The claim was later contradicted by a school district spokesperson who admitted that the material was for the warehouse construction.

In response to questions from eNews Park Forest, Park Forest Mayor Jonathan Vanderbilt contacted Andrea Bonds, District 227 Board President, for an explanation of the storage. Per Vanderbilt, Bonds confirmed that the materials were for the warehouse, and she apologized for any miscommunication that was given to the village. Vanderbilt stated that the village staff is now directly contacting District 227 about the situation.

One question remains whether the stored material poses any fire and/or safety hazard to village residents. Despite repeated requests from eNews Park Forest for a comment on this issue, Park Forest Fire Department Chief Tracy Natyshok has not responded to date.