JOLIET – Plans to redevelop the old Silver Cross Hospital campus ran into objections Thursday.
Six residents of a nearby neighborhood came to the Plan Commission meeting to show their opposition to the annexation of 5.5 acres of Silver Cross-owned land bordering the campus into the city.
The annexation is designed to put all the Silver Cross Hospital property into the city as the old hospital is demolished and efforts are made to market the land for redevelopment.
But the neighbors said those 5.5 acres of undeveloped land have become a forested buffer between their houses and the hospital campus.
“This annexation will utterly destroy what is now a very peaceful, tranquil and idyllic neighborhood,” Ken Jaeger told the commission.
The commission voted 9-0 in favor of the annexation.
There are no immediate plans for the property, noted attorney Tom Osterberger, who represented Silver Cross at the meeting. But the annexation is needed for eventual redevelopment, he said.
“We’re trying to work with the city to redevelop the campus area,” Osterberger said. “They can’t do this if we’re not in the city.”
Most of the hospital campus already is in the city.
Joliet officials have been concerned about the old hospital and other buildings on the campus going unused with blight setting in.
There has been some redevelopment with the old hospital emergency room being converted to a Veterans Affairs outpatient center. Aunt Martha’s built a health clinic on the site, and Volunteers of America of Illinois built an apartment complex for low-income veterans.
The city and Silver Cross in August jointly announced plans to demolish the hospital and create tax incentives to encourage redevelopment of the remaining property.
Jaeger and his neighbors at the meeting Thursday said they do not object to redevelopment of the hospital campus. But they want to keep the 5.5 acres of land between them and whatever else is done at the site.
“I’ve got children who play in the area. I like the area the way it is now,” Victor Alcantar told the commission.
Romeo Zamudio said after the meeting that the property between their neighborhood and the hospital campus is “like a prairie.”
“Our community is nice and quiet,” he said.
Jaeger told the commission that the 5.5 acres “serves as a habitat of a variety of wildlife, such as birds, foxes and one of the most docile and graceful animals, deer.”
He suggested that the land be donated to the city or Will County and be preserved as open land.
“This way,” he said, “the wildlife area remains undisturbed.”