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Local News

Will County: Peotone airport ombudsman no longer needed

County leaders agree to move forward without Illiana Expressway, airport projects

JOLIET – Will County likely will end an agreement with an ombudsman assisting property owners whose land is located within the planned South Suburban Airport’s footprint.

Members of the Will County Executive Committee agreed last week there’s no need to continue with the position because the eastern Will County project is essentially dead in the water.

The topic arose when Will County assistant state’s attorney Mary Tatroe asked the committee for direction, saying the county’s contract with the state for the ombudsman expires June 1. Due to the state’s budget impasse, Will County has not been paid by the state for the last six months, she said.

No formal action was taken last week, but a discontinuation of the contract would not require board approval or action, according to county officials.

Last year, the Will County Board urged the state to drop condemnation cases related to the Peotone airport, saying unwilling property owners shouldn’t be forced to sell land now that Gov. Bruce Rauner has put the project on hold indefinitely.

The board also agreed to prioritize improvements of the Lorenzo Road interchange at Interstate 55 – a major access point to the RidgePort Logistics Park in Wilmington. For some time, the interchange improvement was tied to the also-defunct Illiana Expressway project.

A longtime opponent of the Illiana Expressway and Peotone airport projects, County Board member Judy Ogalla, R-Monee, said Friday the two projects “are questionable at this point.”

“I think the county is focusing on projects that are more realistic and improve existing roads,” Ogalla said. “As far as the airport goes, the state is still taking properties. They should be abandoning that.”

Ogalla is among the homeowners who live in the Peotone airport’s footprint. Talks about the creation of a third regional airport near Peotone have gone on since the late 1960s.

“We have always had this hanging over our heads,” she said.

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