OLYMPIA FIELDS, Ill – State Rep. Al Riley held a press conference last week in Springfield and expressed his concern over the public participation process of recent archeological artifacts from homes burned down during the 1908 Race Riots, which are national historical significance. Last week, the Federal Rail Administration stated in an email that the public comment period never had an ending date and will remain open indefinitely.
At a Federal Rail Administration (FRA) public informational meeting in Springfield on March 10th, the audience expressed their frustration since they were not initially allowed to make public comments. Only after the public pushed the issue of when the public comment period ended, did a representative from the FRA stood up and told the audience that the comment period ended on March 17th. Inquiries by Riley’s office to the FRA yielded the statement that the comment period was indefinite.
According to a January 5, 2015 State Journal Register article, this site was covered up with dirt after the race riots and a lumberyard existed over the property. St. John’s Hospital eventually bought the property and it became a parking lot. The property remained covered for nearly 100 years until unearthed during an archeological study connected with the Carpenter Street underpass project. The study discovered five foundations thought to be remnants of Black owned homes burned down during the 1908 Race Riots.
Representative Riley states, “We must move forward in a timely manner during the public participation process.” Riley wants the Federal Rail Administration to hold another public meeting by April 30, 2015. Hanson Engineering has indicated in newspaper reports that there were ‘minor artifacts’ found at the archeological site. These artifacts are, in my opinion, of major significance. They should be made public during the next public information meeting.”
The public is encouraged to submit comments online at www.springfieldrailroad.com. This week, Representative Riley plans on introducing a resolution to raise awareness of the national historical significance of the archeological find at Carpenter Street.
For more information, please contact Riley by email at [email protected] or by phone at (708) 799-4364.