The La Villita Park is the culmination of a 15 year fight to obtain open, green space in Little Village, and decade long struggle to clean up the former Celotex Superfund site and the surrounding homes. When the organization started in 1995, students from Farragut High school volunteered at LVEJO. This group of young people wanted to get involved in their community and organize around a central issue. They quickly decided to organize around Celotex.
Neighbors of the Celotex site –in particular, young people from Little Village–brought to LVEJO’s attention that they were suffering from skin rashes. It was then discovered that rain run-off from the Celotex site was floating into neighbor’s basements. LVEJO organized with Celotex street neighbors to demand:
1) the homes around Celotex to be tested and cleaned up
2) Celotex site to be remediated
3) for a park to be built on the Celotex site. The Celotex site was remediated and transformed into a groundbreaking park. As a result of this primarily youth-led struggle, a 22-acre park was built with unique amenities such as the largest youth-designed skate park and largest playground in the city.
This great EJ victory could not have been made possible without the community leaders and members, Celotex neighbors and the countless supporters. La Villita Park stands as a great example of community organizing in fighting for environmental justice in Little Village and the powerful voice that young people found in fighting for their community.