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Mayor calls out Jackson Township officials

Brock A. Stein | 4/4/2018, 5:05 p.m.
Joliet’s Mayor Bob O’Dekirk Tuesday night had heard enough criticism from two Jackson Township officials who levied blame at the ...
Joliet Mayor Bob O'Dekirk delivers the state of the city address. Photo by Brock A. Stein

Joliet’s Mayor Bob O’Dekirk Tuesday night had heard enough criticism from two Jackson Township officials who levied blame at the city council for safety concerns stemming from truck traffic headed to warehouse sites near Elwood.

“Seeing elected officials want to come to our meetings and lecture us maybe we should do a little history lesson,” said O’Dekirk following the city council meeting.

“CenterPoint was brought to this area by Elwood back in 2002 not by the city of Joliet.”

O’Dekirk aimed his remarks at Jackson Township trustee Matt Robbins and highway commissioner Paul Buss who both asked the board to not approve preliminary plats for industrial space near Brandon Road that could pave the way for a 1 million square foot warehouse and distribution facility on one lot. That concept for the warehouse is expected to be before the city council to receive its first permit in April this year according to a city memo.

In his remarks to the city council, Robbins accused the council members of ignoring road way safety in order to bring in more tax revenue from the warehouse and distribution facilities.

“You folks are elected to represent the people and to keep in mind their safety,” he said, “When you add that many more trucks you’re not worried about their safety.”

Robbins later asked “are we trying to make another CenterPoint on [Route] 53?,” adding “if we are let all the residents in Elwood know and we’ll move.”

Robbins also accused the city of annexing property but not repairing roads that come with it, particularly S. Bush Rd.

“The roads are not getting taken care of,” he said

O’Dekirk laid the blame for the lack of planning for roadway infrastructure to accommodate the CenterPoint intermodal distribution site on Elwood officials who first approved the deal in 2002.

“These decisions were made years ago,” said the mayor, “and to show up 15 years later in your outfit and lecture the Joliet City Council is a little disingenuous.” O’Dekirk noted that Elwood is also currently pursuing a deal to approve a new warehouse site with developer Northpoint.

“We’re tired of Joliet being painted as the bogeyman here when that’s just not the case.”

Council woman Jan Quillman said that the council has “tried to be a good neighbor to some of the folks who live down there,” she said but noted that the growing pains may be the price of progress. She said that the area may continue to experience more changes as plans for an Illiana expressway in southern Will County take shape in the future.

“It’s not easy sitting here making these decisions,” she said, “sometimes you have to look at the long run, at the greater good.”