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CAPA board wants Joliet to move ahead with Evergreen Terrace lawsuit

3/3/2014, 10:08 p.m.
Board members from a neighborhood organization in Joliet want the city to press on in its condemnation lawsuit against the ...
The Cathedral Area Preservation Association board has submitted a letter to the Joliet City Council urging the city to continue its lawsuit against the owners of the Evergreen Terrace housing development.

Board members from a neighborhood organization in Joliet want the city to press on in its condemnation lawsuit against the owners of the Evergreen Terrace housing complex.

John Kella, president of the Cathedral Area Preservation Association (CAPA), submitted a letter to the Joliet City Council at Monday’s pre-council meeting urging the city to “stay the course” in its condemnation suit against the housing complex at 350 Broadway St.

City council members last month debated the legal costs associated with continuing the condemnation suit against the owners of Evergreen Terrace. Legal fees associated with the case have reached more than $4.5 million and the city will be spending much more money as the case winds its way through the legal system, according to Councilman Bob O’Dekirk.

O’Dekirk, along with Councilman Larry Hug and Councilman Jim McFarland, said the city will spend millions more fighting the case in court and should the city win the condemnation suit it will end up spending many more millions to reduce the density from 365 to 115 units and making other improvements.

However, Kella said should the city prevail in the case it “will benefit not only the Cathderal Area and the St. John’s neighborhood surrounding the complex, but also the entire city and, more importantly, the residents of Evergreen Terrace who need and deserve more spacious places to live and raise families.”

In recent weeks, Kella said he has received phone calls about one or more city council members urging Cathedral Area residents to oppose the city’s efforts. While Kella did not name which city council member or members made the phone calls, he said they “have suggested that if the city isn’t stopped, we will soon have Evergreen Terrace residents in our neighborhood.

“This type of fear mongering is most unfortunate and inappropriate,” Kella said. "It spreads distrust and divisiveness when what we need is city-wide development and racial and ethnic harmony.”

McFarland asked Kella whether CAPA’s letter represented the feelings of all Cathedral Area residents in regards to Evergreen Terrace. McFarland said he has received phone calls and e-mails from residents in favor of the city continuing the condemnation suit and others who oppose continuing the legal fight against the property’s owners.

Kella said the letter represents the sentiments of the CAPA board, which voted unanimously to submit the letter to the city.

Mac Willis, president of the Unity Community Development Corporation, a non-profit organization representing Districts 4 and 5 in Joliet which serves as a conduit for all the neighborhood organizations within those districts, told The Times Weekly after Monday’s meeting that he is not in favor of the way Evergreen Terrace is currently being operated. He said he supports the city moving forward with the lawsuit because it would be a huge of waste of money for Joliet to back out of the case now.

Rex Robinson can be reached at rex@thetimesweekly.com.