Determining Our Next Move
Since the public hearing was cancelled, we are left with a lot of questions: is it really over? What’s next? Who do we trust? Is it over? While a lot of events have transpired including a celebration, some meetings, and several articles in the paper, the reality is that our work is far from complete.
No, It’s Not Over — And You’re Not Crazy For Thinking That
NorthPoint Development may have been turned down by the Village of Elwood, but there are a few facts that residents need to understand. While Mayor Jenco has been emphatic that the NorthPoint project is dead, and with continuous gas-lighting at board meetings by Jenco and Gibson, it’s difficult to ascertain whether or not it really is over.
The reality is that any board member could request that it again be put on the agenda. And with board members like Cary Dean Lowrance citing the project as a “gift from God,” even after the public hearing was cancelled, it doesn’t appear to be implausible that it could be brought up again. Cancelling the public hearing was obviously not a unanimous board decision, but instead, one in which the majority won out.
Though the public hearing was cancelled, NorthPoint Development has until September 14th before the planning and zoning approval recommendation expires. At any point in time until that recommendation expires, a board member could request to have it put back on the agenda, a public hearing could be scheduled, and NorthPoint would pick up right where they left off.
NorthPoint Development has not withdrawn their application to the ICC for the bridge over Rt. 53 and Walter Strawn Drive. This is a lengthy process, and the fact that they have not withdrawn their request shows that there is still interest. Make no mistake — the Village of Elwood is the final determiner of whether or not they allow that bridge to be built as it is within the Village of Elwood’s village limits.
Additionally, NorthPoint Development owns several tracts of land, including the old CenterPoint property (by the existing Bissell Warehouse) in addition to some others. They haven’t put those up for sale. They’re developers, not brokers, so holding on to that property with no plan doesn’t make sense.
Dealing With Elwood’s Debt Issues
The Village of Elwood will need to restructure its GO bonds, which will result in more time to pay them off. Additionally in 2023, CenterPoint’s TIF will be up, which means that the Village of Elwood will finally start seeing tax revenue. Furthermore, new business in Elwood has already come about with a new communications tower, Elwood Energy, and a new bar, which will all contribute to the local economy.
What YOU Can Do
There are a number of things that you can do. The first thing to do is to stay vigilant — watch for public notices, attend board meetings and planning and zoning meetings in Elwood to stay apprised of what’s going on in your community. Keep an eye on our Facebook page and our website for updates.
There are a few petitions that have been circulating. The first was the original petition that sprung up around the time of NorthPoint’s open house. We are still collecting signatures for that petition online and in paper.
Additionally, the Sierra Club has a petition that calls for a stop to additional warehousing in Will County — it doesn’t call for a ban on warehousing everywhere, but instead cites several rational stipulations that must be met before we continue to build more warehouses. You can read more about the Sierra Club’s petition and sign it by visiting this link: https://www.addup.org/campaigns/time-for-a-time-out-on-massive-warehouse-and-distribution-centers-in-will-county
An additional petition was started in March specifically for and by Village of Elwood residents. At this time, I believe that they have concluded their petition collection as Mayor Jenco addressed each item on the petition and asserted that he would not be doing any of them — in spite of the fact that more people had signed the petition than who voted in the last mayoral election.
Encourage local officials to extend boundary agreements. Without the threat looming of a city or village taking another’s land, negotiations can take place freely, and no one will be felt coerced into something they don’t want — or have it taken from them.
Joliet residents, please email Mayor Bob O’Dekirk and urge him to be a good neighbor to the Village of Manhattan as well as the Village of Elwood and extend the boundary agreements, ROdekirk@jolietcity.org, as well as to reach out to Elwood Village President Doug Jenco and Manhattan Mayor Jamie Doyle to ask the same. Elwood and Manhattan residents, encourage your friends within the city limits of Joliet to reach out to their Mayor and ask for support in this matter. You can find contact information for all local officials on our website.
Together, we can make great things happen for our community. The cancellation of the public hearing was absolutely a historic win for us, but we still have much work to do. We’ll keep you posted. Thanks for staying in the fight and sticking with us.
May 24 is a busy day for me, as it is the spring fundraiser for my local United Methodist Women, and I had an evening event planned as well. So though my heart is with those who are against increasing truck traffick, impacting air, infrastructure, and peace of mind in an agricultural area, it would be hard for me to attend the event that Ann Baskerville invited me to.