In an unexpected twist to the years-long James Park litigation saga, begun when the City refused to allow Nicor to replace leaking gas pipes and continued when the City twice filed suit against two public utilities claiming they threatened to poison the City’s drinking water, recent bore samples appear to have discovered one of the largest shale oil deposits in the Midwest resting deep under Mount Trashmore.

The borings, part of a regular regiment of safety-related soil samples, have plumbed deeper and deeper as the City continues to dig in its heels in an effort to blame natural gas deposits under James Park on Nicor and its predecessor companies. Sampling deeper, however, created a new and interesting problem – oil.

“’Now listen to s story ‘bout a man named Jed,’” whistled The City’s Director of Corporate Largesse, Grafton Grant. “I believe our budget problems are solved. We will be able to sell the rights to drill in James Park to one of the many fracking specialists in our state, and just like that, no more pension crisis!”

Not so fast, said a representative of Nicor. “The City has taken the position that we are responsible for fossil fuels under and around James Park. Guess what? We now agree. The oil is ours,” said gas company public relations specialist Hermione Mercatain. “We will let the federal judge sort it out.,” she added.

Sergio Hondo of Action Boring, the contractor responsible for providing core samples, called the oil deposit “potentially one of the largest I have ever experienced in my 29 years of drilling.” The oil-saturated shale sits just below a crust of what experts long presumed to be a limestone barrier some 300 feet below and about 150 south of Oakton Ave. just across from the Home Depot shopping center. He said a drilling operation would have a “minimum impact” on local traffic and the use of the park.

“Modern drilling equipment takes up just about 110 square yards of space,” he said. “You will barely know the drillers are here – trucks taking oil off site travel only between midnight and 4 am, and their noise footprint is relatively minor.”

Drilling rigging will not be coming any time soon, however, as legal ramifications could take years to sort out. The Village of Skokie, State of Illinois, Cook County, and of course the utilities are all expected to claim an interest in potentially vast oil fracking revenue. “We have never seen anything quite like this,” said Mr. Grant.

The ongoing lawsuit, in which the City has spent more than $8.1 million in legal and expert fees in an effort to prove our drinking water is compromised because of the actions and inactions of natural gas companies, now feels like an afterthought. “I mean, it looks like the gas and deposits might be natural after all,” admitted Grant. “Ooops. Our bad.”

The matter will be sorted out in court at a hearing set for April 1, 2019.