Gas Leak Blowing Out of the Ground Near Happiness Park Arlington Heights

Gas main leak near Happiness Park Greenbrier Public Improvements Project 2021 Arlington Heights. YouTube Tips ⓘ

Police, firefighters, and paramedics from Arlington Heights responded about 12:39 p.m. Tuesday, May 18, 2021 to a report of an odor of natural gas in the area of Verde Drive and Plymouth Court in Arlington Heights. The natural gas odor was reported to be coming from the area where construction workers were active as part of the Greenbrier Public Improvements Project 2021. A few neighbors in the Greenbrier neighborhood contacted CARDINAL NEWS with concerns about what was happening in their neighborhood.

At 1:01 p.m. an ambulance was dispatched for a person experiencing a headache connected with the outside gas odor.




Engine 2’s crew on arrival reported gas blowing out of the ground with Nicor already on the scene. Initially it was unknown whether the construction crew called Nicor directly without calling the fire department, or whether Nicor was already on the scene supervising excavation near gas mains. One thing was certain. Many Nicor crews began converging in the neighborhood. A 4-inch gas main involved with a break at a T-junction or a similar configuration was blowing gas upward — made visible up to a block away by an approximate 20-foot dust cloud. A very strong odor of natural gas was pushed north by strong winds from the south.

The NWS at Chicago Executive Airport reported that winds were from the South at 16 MPH and gusting to 23 MPH at 12:52 p.m. Winds shifted from the Southeast later in the afternoon and gusted as high as 28 to 30 MPH.

Initially it was unknown whether the ambulance transported a patient, but at least one couple visited a physician because of symptoms suffered by the gas odor. They were wondering how their medical bill would be compensated by the construction company that caused the gas main break.




A statement from the Village of Arlington Heights said that the village’s contractor Dimeo Brothers accidentally struck a 4-inch gas main while excavating for the installation of storm sewer at the intersection of N. Verde Drive and Champlain Street. The intersection was closed to through traffic while NICOR made the necessary repairs. The repair was expected to be finished by 5 PM but a neighbor said work was still ongoing after dark.

Neighbors that were out on the south side of the gas leak said there was not a strong odor, but that when the gas was visibly blowing out of the ground, they experienced eye irritation. Two neighbors said that utility locator on scene said this was the third gas leak that occurred with this construction project. The neighbors said the crew also hit a water main that caused leaking water and temporary loss of water supply.

Neighbors say that the staging area for construction equipment and construction activities are too close to homes. Hundreds of heavy trucks go in and out of the staging area all hours during the work day, and that chunks of concrete and asphalt from torn up streets are smashed and broken down in the staging area. The activity is shaking the inside of their homes.




One neighbor whose property line is up against the staging area said the activities destroyed their in-ground swimming pool. The pool maintenance company that was scheduled to open their pool inspected the pool, and said the pool could not be opened because it was damaged. The rectangular pool is now lopsided, the coping is falling off, and the pool ladder is loose and can be shaken from its mounting. The pool maintenance company estimated that the cost of demolition of the old pool and installation of a new pool is $187,000. They haven’t inspect their house for damage yet.

The family says two emails reporting problems and concerns sent to Mayor Tom Hayes starting in September 2020 went unanswered, and that someone from the engineering department or the Village of Arlington Heights who was managing the project has retired and never answered their concerns — saying something to the effect, “not everyone can be happy.” Now the family with the wrecked swimming pool is faced with a blame game, according to mom, who wanted to keep her identity private for this article. She said the Village of Arlington Heights is blaming the construction company, and the construction company is blaming the Village of Arlington Heights. She said her family chose the house because it had a built-in pool.

She said a lawyer has taken the case on contingency.

Before the construction headaches, neighbors had already felt mistreated by the Village of Arlington Heights because the old pond has been a stinking problem for years with stagnant water. During Winter 2020/21 neighbors even faced another type of “passing of the buck” between the Village of Arlington Heights and the Arlington Heights Park District. Neither entity would take responsibility for clearing snow from the parkway sidewalk as the control of Happiness Park property was in the process of changing hands between the park district and the village.




The Greenbrier Public Improvements Project 2021 is a stormwater control project costing about $7.2 million. The design calls for the stagnant pond on the north side of Happiness Park to overflow into a water retention basin to the south of the pond. The water would normally recede in the south basin within 24 hours. The area where the new basin will be located is currently the staging area for the construction projects while streets are torn up and new larger storm drainage sewers and water mains are installed.

The area near Greenbrier Elementary School is scheduled to be completed by August 2021 and the rest of the project, including newly paved streets, are scheduled to be completed by October 2021.




Neighbors are disappointed that the Village of Arlington Heights has not used better methods to keep them informed. One woman arrived home and knew nothing about the gas leak. She was concerned whether her pets were still alive or had suffering after exposure to gas fumes as she opened her door to enter her house. Neighbors suggested the Village of Arlington Heights provide regular information updates online, and have a better system of alerting neighbors when a gas main break occurs — especially since this was not the first gas main break during construction.

Firefighters and police officers did not enforce any evacuations, but went door-to-door so neighbors were aware of the situation, and so they would be prepared if an evacuation order was activated.

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Natural gas and dust cloud blowing out of the ground near Happiness Park Greenbrier Public Improvements Project 2021
Natural gas and dust cloud blowing out of the ground near Happiness Park Greenbrier Public Improvements Project 2021.
Natural gas and dust cloud blowing out of the ground near Happiness Park Greenbrier Public Improvements Project 2021
Natural gas and dust cloud blowing out of the ground near Happiness Park Greenbrier Public Improvements Project 2021.
Natural gas and dust cloud blowing out of the ground near Happiness Park Greenbrier Public Improvements Project 2021
Natural gas and dust cloud blowing out of the ground near Happiness Park Greenbrier Public Improvements Project 2021.

The information in this article is an early report published before any summary information was confirmed or released by police or fire authorities.

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