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Mary's Restaurant

On the border of South Beloit, Illinois and Beloit, Wisconsin is a confluence of the Rock River and Turtle Creek. This location has a unique history, in which it is believed to have been a habitation site for native peoples as far back as 13,000 years ago. The “Late Woodland” people are believed to have built mounds in the region, lived in small villages, and even had a diverse economy that included hunting, fishing, gathering, trading, and plant cultivation. Several centuries later, the New England Emigrating Company purchased a piece of this land, where they founded the City of Beloit in 1837. Over time, the 3.2-acre piece of land called “Mary’s Restaurant” has held many different businesses, but is currently a vacant lot.

In July of 2012, the Illinois EPA Office of Site Evaluation (OSE) began a series of investigations at Mary’s Restaurant. To confirm the presence of underground storage tanks (USTs) at the site, a Genonics EM-61 was used several times over the course of the investigation. In addition to the metal detector survey, eight soil samples and two groundwater samples were collected in September of 2012 using a Geoprobe rig. Sampling results confirmed high concentrations of benzene and xylenes in the soil, indicating potential leakage from USTs on portions of the property. In February of 2013, the Illinois EPA returned to the site to conduct another EM-61 survey on different locations of the property. However, this survey did not reveal any anomalies that would indicate potential USTs on these portions of the property. The Illinois EPA conducted another EM-61 investigation in June of 2016 to investigate USTs on the property, in which they did not detect any significant amounts of metal or detect the UST identified during the 2012 investigation.

Based on the Illinois EPA investigation results, a consulting firm was hired by the City of South Beloit to determine the actions necessary to meet Illinois EPA regulatory cleanup requirements. Additional work was completed by OSE in October of 2016, including collection of soil and groundwater samples. The results identified volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in three of the 12 soil samples collected and in one of the six groundwater samples collected. However, the results revealed no compounds detected at concentrations exceeding regulatory cleanup objectives in either soil and groundwater samples, other than xylenes in one deep soil sample.

"Beloit 2020", an organization focused on redevelopment plans on the Rock River, has developed a project called “Nature at the Confluence,” which focuses on an area just 0.2 miles from Mary’s Restaurant. With the help and information gathered from OSE over the years, Beloit 2020 is beginning to transform the area centered on the confluence of the Rock River and Turtle Creek from a liability into an asset, in which the floodplain where the confluence is located is surrounded by blight and contamination. The hope of this project is to transform this area into a learning center with nature trails nearby & canoe and kayak excursions along the Rock River.