Plans to redevelop old, polluted factory site - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Plans to redevelop old, polluted factory site

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Plan A for possible redevelopment of the area. Plan A for possible redevelopment of the area.
Plan B for possible redevelopment of the area. Plan B for possible redevelopment of the area.
Plan C for possible redevelopment of the area. Plan C for possible redevelopment of the area.
WATERLOO (KWWL) -

Chamberlain Manufacturing was once a leading name in Eastern Iowa progress.  Decades later, the name Chamberlain is most closely associated with the polluted and empty site on East 4th Street near the Waterloo Gates Golf Course.  Chamberlain Manufacturing was sold off, and the Waterloo location closed around 1990.

The closure would eventually lead to a big mess for the city.  The site sat empty for more than 20 years before the city began the clean-up of the condemned buildings and ground pollution left behind by years of manufacturing.

The buildings are now long gone, but for those in the neighborhood, the memories remain.

"It was okay. It was just hard work pushing those shelves," said Jewel Smith, who worked at Chamberlain in the 60s. 

Smith lives just across the street from the site and continues to deal with the fallout of the company closing the plant.

"I don't like it so well," said Smith.

The pollution might not be visible, but the partial walls, the falling-down fence, and the rancid stench coming from the field is a reminder of what was left behind.  But hopefully, an answer is on the way.

City partners presented possible options for redevelopment of the site during a public meeting on Tuesday.

"Ground contamination, all of those things will be cleaned up," said Waterloo Mayor Quentin Hart.

The city sees the potential for the site, with options for additional holes on the Gates Golf course, green space, and bike trails.  The redevelopment plan also includes commercial and residential development in the surrounding areas.

"That is why we are putting in the effort right now to have those conversations. This is going to last us a lifetime, and we want that site to be as safe as it possibly can be, but also be beautiful with many amenities that are deserving of the neighbors that grew up in that area and live there now," said Mayor Hart.

The plans are not finalized. Instead, the city is still looking for community input and plans to hold more public meetings before any decisions are made.  Once the redevelopment plans are set, the Illinois company that bought out Chamberlain and the EPA will begin the clean-up process, which could take several years.

For more information on the Chamberlain site: http://www.thenewwaterloo.com/projects/

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