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.