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Old House Comes Down, but Gateway Park's Stalled

Failure to secure a federal grant and to convince the owner to donate the land have been frustrating, but Michael Bortel said he's going to keep trying.

A building long deemed a village eyesore was torn down Monday, but efforts to build a park on the site remain stymied.

The property known as the old Carlton* house at the corner of U.S. 30 and Route 59 was the last roadblock to clearing the .925-acre site that Plainfield Historical Society President Michael Bortel would like to see made into , commemorating the point at which old Route 66 intersected with the Lincoln Highway.

However, he was unable to secure a $5,000 matching grant from the National Park Service that would have funded a redevelopment study, the first step in getting the park built.

Bortel also said he’s had no success in convincing the property’s owner, G.C. Real Estate of Lincolnshire, that the site – a triangular lot where a gas station and a couple of other structures once stood -- is unlikely to be sold for a commercial development and should be donated to the village.

“I’m glad (the house) came down,” said Bortel, who's also chairman of the village's Historic Preservation Commission. “I think (the owner) is just hoping somebody’s going to come along and buy the property.”

Still, Bortell has not given up the fight. He plans to reapply for the federal grant in the fall, and remains convinced the location is the perfect sport for a park.

His vision would be to turn the historically significant Corbin-Bingham-Worst residence, the last remaining house on the site, into a visitors center that would explain the historical significance of the two major cross-country roads in the days before interstates.

Route 66 began in Chicago and ended in Los Angeles. Lincoln Highway started in New York City and ended in San Francisco.

In addition to the center, there would be a green park area and parking for 10 to 12 cars. Gateway Park would not only serve as a potential tourist site, it could be another way to draw people to downtown Plainfield, he said.  

 

* Editor's note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified the house as Carlson.

Ed Arter August 16, 2011 at 02:25 PM
Good Job Mr. Bortel . If the National Park Service isn't going to fund a park ,how about trying the Lincoln Highway Committee, or The Rt. 66 Foundation for funding help ? --both may be intrested in a combined project--just food for thought.
MICHAEL BORTEL August 16, 2011 at 06:48 PM
Thanks for that idea, but that was recently proposed to both groups and it seems that their funding has also dried up in light of today's current economic climate. Plainfield's CLG status will allow the Village to apply for a grant in the Fall 2011 to hopefully fund a feasibility/planning study for 2012.
Karen Sorensen August 16, 2011 at 10:18 PM
My apologies -- I should have said in the article that it was the property owner who paid for the house to be torn down. Also, a correction, the name of the house is Carlton, not Carlson.
MICHAEL BORTEL August 16, 2011 at 10:58 PM
An oil company located in Lincolnshire, Illinois are the owners of the .925 acre triangular parcel where the old GoTane service station was once located, that was torn down last year by IDOT prior to the roadwork that is nearly coming to an end. The owners agreed to raze the old Carlton house that has sat vacant for nearly 20 years. The house that is located south of the razed house was built aound 1843-45 and was probably built by Dr. Oliver Corbin - the land on which it is located would later become his subdivision. The Plainfield HPC hopes to one day restore the historic house turning it into a Plainfield visitor's center with the adjacent land becoming a park to celebrate the history of the parcel, which was once the location of Plainfield's first industrial site. The Village already has far too many empty vacant lots where historic houses once stood that were torn down to make way for new businesses only to find out that that would not happen. Hopefully we can convince the owners to donate the parcel to the Village for a passive park.
Jay August 17, 2011 at 03:28 AM
Mike, what's the name of the oil company that owns the lot? Maybe with enough community pressure in the form of letters, etc., we might be able to convince them that donating the land is a much better idea than waiting years for a buyer. We all know that there a very limited uses for the property, especially with the new intersection. Publish the name of the owner and let's get some community involvement behind a push to donate the property for a park. (OR - maybe there is some other unused land the village can exchange?)

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