Torn curtains and twisted metal blinds hung dejectedly outside broken windows late last week at the unused and unloved former Copley Memorial Hospital south of Aurora’s downtown.
A scent of decay and long-standing water emanates from the visibly deteriorating structure, empty since the mid-1990s when the hospital closed and moved operations to a new facility on East Ogden Ave.
Now the city of Aurora says it intends to sue the current owners of the property — Raghuveer P. Nayak and Anita R. Nayak — seeking removal of asbestos and to secure the site.
“It has grown to be much more than an eyesore in the community,” Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin said in a statement last week. “The site poses a threat to the health and safety of the residents of Aurora. This situation has gone on for far too long. The Nayaks created this problem, and they must be held accountable for correcting it.”
Located at North Lincoln and Weston Avenues just north of Bardwell Elementary School, the old Copley Hospital is a collection of buildings of varying ages that were physically connected in the pursuit of care and healing.
Today, the common theme is deterioration.
“One of the major concerns of Ward Four residents is the former hospital, and the growing risk it brings to the immediate neighborhood,” said Ald. Bill Donnell. “The community has waited for substantial action to be taken by the owners to no avail. The City’s issuance of a notice to sue expresses the critical urgency to address the problem for the safety and health of the community.”
On July 27, the city filed a issued a Notice of Intent to Sue under the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act against Nayaks and the companies they control, relating to the presence of asbestos at the Old Copley Hospital.
The notice states that the city will file suit in federal court in 90 days unless the Nayaks immediately secure the facility and mitigate the danger by removing asbestos.
Since they assumed ownership in February 2007, the city claims that the Nayaks have allowed the buildings to deteriorate significantly and that the asbestos in the hospital buildings pose a risk to emergency responders and the community at large.
The notice was addressed to the Nayaks because they exercise authority and control over the buildings, which makes them liable under federal environmental laws, city officials said.
According to a frequently asked questions page on the city’s web site, the Copley buildings were constructed between 1888 through the 1970’s during the peak period of usage of asbestos building materials.
A visitor last week found the site protected by chain link fencing with no visible openings and first-floor doorways and windows boarded up and secured.
But that hasn’t prevented self-described urban explorers and even ghost hunters from exploring the abandoned hospital.
Explorers have posted YouTube videos of their visits, which showed fallen ceiling tiles, holes in floors and standing water. One showed what they claimed to be employee records left in the building.
One paranormal investigation web site — hauntedplaces.org — offered a report from hospital visitors.
“People that have broken in this hospital have heard footsteps, unexplained voices and even apparitions,” the site reported. “In one encounter, a group of teens have seen a doll that might have belonged to a young child patient, move on its own once they looked at it.”
The city said it will monitor the progress of actions and provide updates via the city’s website at www.aurora-il.org/OldCopleyHospital.
–Aurora plans to sue owners of ‘eyesore’ Copley Hospital to address asbestos dangers —