Tilton Drone

The former General Motors Foundry site in Tilton will soon host a new solar farm. Anthony Zilis/The News-Gazette

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The landfill on the former General Motors Foundry site in Tilton sat nearly empty for 25 years after the plant closed in 1995.

Over the years, there was interest in the site, Mayor David Phillips said, but its use was limited. A park or any type of structure that would call for breaking too much ground would cause issues.

“You can’t break the cap of the landfill, because it starts leeching,” Phillips said. “Every time we get somebody looking at it, we take two steps forward and 100 steps back it seems like.”

The land will have a new, cleaner use when work begins on a new solar farm in December, which the site was awarded through a solar energy tax credit lottery by the Illinois Power Agency in Chicago last year.

“You can’t use the landfill for anything else,” Phillips said. “This is a good project for the land. … The community, and not just our community, will have the opportunity to buy green energy instead of energy that’s not green. It helps everybody to have green energy.”

The GM foundry site has been a relic of a different time in Tilton, when the site was a high-traffic area and a major employer.

Phillips wasn’t sure how the project would be affected by the pandemic and the subsequent downturn in the economy, but it appears ready to go ahead.

“It was kind of touch and go,” he said, “but I just signed off on the plans last week, and they’re supposed to be starting in the next few weeks.”

— Anthony Zilis

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