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Joliet postpones Silver Cross annexation

Brock A. Stein | 11/29/2017, 10:03 a.m.
The Joliet City Council has postponed its vote to annex 8 parcels of land near Silver Cross Hospital in to ...
The Joliet City Council has postponed its vote to annex 8 parcels of land near Silver Cross Hospital in to the city. Google maps

The Joliet City Council has postponed its vote to annex 8 parcels of land near Silver Cross Hospital in to the city.

The 8 parcels, owned by the hospital, would help with future redevelopment of the area making it easier to add water and sewer infrastructure according to village documents.

Not everyone was convinced that the annexation was a good idea including resident Ken Jaeger who spoke in opposition to the move during a public hearing at city hall last week.

Jaeger cited a litany of reasons that the annexation shouldn’t be allowed to take place including light pollution for nearby residential neighbors, destruction of a natural woodlands area that acts as a barrier between the neighborhood and Route 6 and an increase in crime.

“We take issue with Silver Cross doing this,” said jaeger who had also collected signatures on a petition to encourage the council to spike the proposal.

“An entire neighborhood should not suffer because of incompetent planning of a few executives that serve at the hospital,” he said.

A village memo outlining the plan emphasizes that there are no current plans for redevelopment of the former hospital site or the 8 parcels that would become part of the campus. The 5.5 acres area is currently located outside of the city and is served by the East Joliet Sanitary Sewer District. Roads are currently maintained by Joliet Township.

In October, the city approved a feasibility study for the creation of a tax increment funding (TIF) district the area around the hospital campus. Economic Development Director Steve Jones said that having all of the hospital-owned properties within the city would make the property more attractive to potential redevelopment eventually, especially if it’s all contained in the same contiguous TIF district.

City Council member Jan Quillman called for tabling the vote on the annexation because she wants to look at whether the city can recoup some of $1.1 million spent to spruce up streets and lighting near the hospital in 2007, about 5 years before Silver Cross vacated the site on Eagle Street for a new location in New Lenox, said Quillman.

Quillman said that about $366,000 was spent from District 4 neighborhood improvement funds for decorative lighting and about $809,000 for street upgrades.

“There are so many streets in district 4 that could have used that money,” said Quillman.

“This was done because the city at the time didn’t know that Silver Cross was going to abruptly move,” she added, “I would like to see the moneys put back in district 4 funds.“

An attorney for Silver Cross, Tom Osterberger, said that the hospital was complying with a City of Joliet recommendation for the annexation and that there was no discussion about re-funding money for the roadway and lighting upgrades.

“If you don’t want it annexed, we won’t annex it,” said Osterberger.

“The hospital isn’t looking to do any development at this point or do anything other than cooperate with [city] staff.”