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Local News

Residents demand Rialto funding be withheld amid marquee controversy

JOLIET – Cunningham Neighborhood Association President John Sheridan requested Monday night that the city of Joliet withhold funding from the Rialto Square Theater unless officials there adequately address recent criticisms about the theater’s new marquee design.

The city’s 2015 proposed budget includes $600,000 for the Rialto to subsidize the cost of operations.

Sheridan said the city could put that money to better use – such as with the hiring of more police officers. He said theater officials should listen to the voices of taxpayers about the marquee.

“Let them find money elsewhere,” Sheridan said of the Rialto. “If they don’t need our opinion, they don’t need our money, plain and simple.”

The comments made Monday by Sheridan and a few others were the result of an online uproar over the design of the future Rialto marquee, publicly unveiled last month. Ed Czerkies, a retired construction magnate, announced a $350,000 donation to replace the marquee. The design – which provides a place on the marque for him to honor his parents – has angered many residents, who have taken to social media sites like Facebook to complain.

Sheridan was among a handful of residents, mostly from the St. John’s and Cunningham Neighborhood Associations, who showed up at the Joliet City Council’s special budget meeting Monday night, to talk about the Rialto marquee issue and other matters.

Longtime Joliet Junior College board member Andy Mihelich, who’s making a second run for Joliet mayor in April, also called on the City Council to make the funding available to the Rialto contingent upon theater officials meeting with residents about the marquee and making changes to the design in response to public criticism. 

Earlier this month, Rialto General Manager Randy Green said he wasn’t surprised by the reaction to the new design. And, despite the criticisms, the Rialto Square Theater is moving forward with it, he has said.

No council members or city officials publicly commented on the Rialto at the meeting.

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