By Audrina Bigos


Little Village residents protesting outside City Hall on Wednesday. (CBS)

CHICAGO (CBS) — Residents of Little Village on Wednesday staged a protest outside City Hall, objecting to Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s decision to restart demolition of a power plant in their neighborhood.

Last month, the implosion of a smoke stack at the Crawford Power Plant, near 35th and Kedzie, sent clouds of dust over the neighborhood. Lightfoot said the building could collpase at any time and poses a serious danger. At one point she postponed the demolition, but now it’s back on schedule.

City officials have said a turbine building at the old Crawford power plant in Little Village is an imminent danger and must be demolished. (Credit: Chicago Department of Buildings)

On Monday, Lightfoot on Monday admitted city officials “should have done a better job” notifying people who live in the neighborhood of plans to resume demolition work at an old power plant, weeks after the botched smokestack implosion sent a huge plume of dust through the community.

Protesters said the mayor lied about putting demolition on hold for six months at the power plant after Hilco Redevelopment Partners botched the implosion of the facility’s old smoke stack on April 11. Lightfoot has said the developer was supposed to use high-powered water cannons to spray down the smokestack to prevent dust from blowing onto nearby homes, but they apparently failed to do so.

The implosion of the smokestack at the old Crawford power plant in Little Village created a huge dust cloud that blanketed the neighborhood on April 11, 2020. (Credit: Maclovio/Instagram@macnifying_glass)

On Monday, Lightfoot said an inspection of the facility determined the turbine building is in dangerously bad condition, and needs to come down. She said the city did “extensive outreach” in the community before allowing Hilco to prepare demolishing the turbine building on Thursday, but acknowledged they should have done more.

Hilco was fined approximately $68,000 for the botched demolition of the smokestack, and weeks later was hit with new fines of up to $2,500 for a problem that mistakenly sent runoff water into the Sanitary and Ship Canal.

Last month, the city said air and soil tests showed no harmful effects from the April implosion.