Abandoned Lot in Sidney is getting cleaned up

SIDNEY —The abandoned lot at the edge of Sidney, long used as an illegal dumping ground, is now looking pretty good.  Sidney Township took possession of the property located at 2141 County Road 1000 North and has embarked on a massive job of cleaning it up.

Thanks to the efforts of Sidney Township Supervisor Tim Osterbur and his crew, what once was a convenient drop-off for illegal trash is now turning into a useable space.

The lot had languished for years, with no barrier to entry for kids looking for a secluded spot to mess around in.  The two outbuildings were vandalized inside and out with obscene graffiti.   With no gate at the entrance, it was a tempting open space for county residents who wanted to get rid of large items garbage services wouldn’t take, like broken televisions, mounds of old tires and hot tubs.  Over time, the four-acre property filled up with junk.  Piles of it. Abandoned vehicles and even old boats dotted the landscape.  It was the first thing anyone saw when coming to town on the slab from the east, and it was ugly.

One hundred tons of garbage is an eyesore, indeed.  That’s how much garbage the township crew has hauled off already, and they aren’t finished yet.

Although residents assumed that the lot was part of the village of Sidney, it is actually just outside the village limits, in the jurisdiction of Sidney Township.  There were offers to buy it over the years, but there was no clear title.  The property languished, attracting junk and bad behavior like a magnet. 

Osterbur decided he wanted to do something about it.  He started working with the County Clerk’s office tracking down the numerous liens that existed on the property, which in the past had precluded it from being sold.   It turned out that a few banks and the State of Illinois all had a claim to the lot in a tangled web of money owed.  

With help from the county,  the State’s Attorney got involved and helped them negotiate a deal, Osterbur said.  An intergovernmental agreement assured that the township had a lien on the property.  Their claim supersedes all others, making it almost a sure thing that they will eventually claim possession of the four acres of land through a foreclosure.  “We just have to wait for the required time period to see if the property is paid off by any of the other lien holders,” Osterbur said.  “It is probably unlikely that anyone will pay the back taxes and other money owed because the five liens on the property far exceed its value, so we will get it in time.”

Once Sidney Township owns it, they plan on either selling it at auction, or perhaps finding a use for it for the township’s needs.

Meanwhile, Osterbur and his crew are footing the bill to clean it up.  It was a five-month process to acquire it and start the cleanup.  One of the first things they did was to put up a gate to stop the illegal dumping.  Then they found places to send all that garbage.  “We sent the televisions to the community recycling service,” Osterbur said, “and we have hauled off truckloads of concrete, scrap metal and old hot tubs.  It was unbelievable the amount of garbage that was here.  It was just piles and piles.”  The massive mountains of tires have been taken to a recycling company in Danville.   Slowly but surely, the property is transforming.

“It’s a nice property.  Once it’s cleaned up, it will have a lot of potential,” Osterbur said.   He had some ideas of his own for the four acres.  “Maybe it could be the site for a new Sidney town hall,” he said.  

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