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Local News

Rialto marquee controversy takes strange turns

A mock-up of the proposed renovation the the marquee of the Rialto Square Theatre. Ed Czerkies donated $350,000 to renovate the marquee of the theater.
A mock-up of the proposed renovation the the marquee of the Rialto Square Theatre. Ed Czerkies donated $350,000 to renovate the marquee of the theater.

JOLIET – The Rialto Square Theatre sign controversy took a new twist Friday, giving the appearance of what some might call Marquee-gate.

Opponents of the new marquee design distributed online photos of what they say is the new sign under construction and said the marquee is not as near completion as Executive Director Randy Green said at a Wednesday meeting. Green, in turn, said the photo does not represent other work done on the sign and issued a statement that the photos was obtained under false pretenses.

"The Rialto Belongs to the People" Facebook page, which has been communication central for the anti-marquee forces, posted photos administrators say is of the new sign that showed a framework but none of the elements that have been the focus of controversy.

"We would definitely like them to stop work," said Sherry Lewandowski, who posted the photo and has been one of the vocal critics of the future marquee design. Lewandowski said opponents want to negotiate the design before more work is done.

But more work already has been done than is shown in the photo, according to Green. It's just not in the photo, he said.

"The photo that was posted did not represent the full work on the sign," said Green, who earlier in the week said marquee construction is 75 percent complete. "I stand by my statement that the sign is 75 percent completed."

Green issued a statement saying he was told by the sign's manufacturer that the photo was sent to a "caller who identified themselves as from the Rialto calling on behalf of Randy Green" and asked the photos be sent to a non-Rialto email address.

"I never represented myself as being with Randy Green in any way, shape or form," Lewandowski said.

She said she called Landmark Sign Group in Chesterton, Indiana, for the photo and even told the person with whom she spoke that Green would not likely share the picture with her. What she got was an email with photo that had previously been sent to Green, Lewandowski said.

Green said he would not comment beyond what was in his written statement and was referring the matter to "legal counsel."

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