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Local News

Joliet Township not ready to make Bicentennial Park decision

James Zahorick walks past a set of chairs while counting the music stands June 4 in preparation for the Metropolitan Youth Symphony performance at Bicentennial Park. Joliet Township officials are waiting on more information before deciding whether to make a proposal to the city to take control of Billie Limacher Bicentennial Park
James Zahorick walks past a set of chairs while counting the music stands June 4 in preparation for the Metropolitan Youth Symphony performance at Bicentennial Park. Joliet Township officials are waiting on more information before deciding whether to make a proposal to the city to take control of Billie Limacher Bicentennial Park

JOLIET – Joliet Township officials are waiting on more information before deciding whether to make a proposal to the city to take control of Billie Limacher Bicentennial Park.

Township Supervisor Dan Vera at one point expected the township board would be able to make a decision in October after doing a due diligence review of the property.

Vera said this week not all the information is in yet, including the potential insurance costs of running the park.

“We’re not done with due diligence yet,” he said.

Vera said findings would be presented in a report to the township board at an open meeting when all the reports are in.

Vera has proposed the creation of an intergovernmental agreement that would keep the city involved in the park but give control to the township. He said the township has the resources to bring back big events that were held at the park before spending cutbacks during the recession.

Joliet City Council members have had a mixed response to the idea, and it is not clear whether a majority would favor a change in management or ownership.

Mayor Bob O’Dekirk said Thursday that he believes most council members are waiting to hear a proposal from the township before making up their minds.

“I’d want to see what the proposal is,” O’Dekirk said, adding that he did not believe Vera has made it clear whether he wanted the township to own or lease the park.

There is a petition drive to block a township takeover of the park led by the St. John’s Neighborhood Association. The park is in the St. John’s neighborhood.

Opponents point to the significance of the location in Joliet’s history and argue the park should remain under control of the city. The park was built in the original business district of Joliet and includes plaques that commemorate the city’s historic ties to the site.

Candace Johnson, co-president of the St. John’s Neighborhood Association, recently questioned the city’s spending on the park at a council meeting.

“They are not allocating all of the money allocated to Bicentennial Park for Bicentennial Park,” Johnson said Thursday.

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