JOLIET – Joliet officials may have to take an active role in the debate over the Northpoint development to show they’re not involved, Mayor Bob O’Dekirk said Tuesday.
O’Dekirk at the end of the City Council meeting made one of his repeated statements that Joliet is not involved in Northpoint’s plan for 2,000-plus acres of warehouse and distribution development planned for Elwood.
But, the mayor said, rumors persist of “some backroom deal” to bring the project to Joliet if Elwood rejects the annexation plan.
“I’ve tried to keep the city of Joliet out of this. It doesn’t seem to be working,” O’Dekirk said. “We keep getting dragged into it.”
A proposal to annex Northpoint’s proposed Compass Business Park is to be considered at some point in the near future by the Elwood Village Board. Threat of a Joliet annexation could be used to sway Elwood officials who might worry that the project would be built without their oversight and without any of the tax benefits coming to their village.
O’Dekirk said after the meeting that Joliet officials may need to go to public meetings on the project to state the city’s position that Joliet has no role in the project.
“I was told by a couple of mayors that they are being told by people involved with the project that they already have a deal with the city of Joliet,” O’Dekirk said.
O’Dekirk later would not identify the mayors or whether they were being told of the alleged Joliet involvement by Northpoint people themselves. But the project primarily has involved the villages of Elwood and Manhattan.
O’Dekirk said Joliet may have to take a more active role just to dissociate the city from the project.
He said his statement at the council meeting was one way to clarify the city’s position.
City Attorney Marty Shanahan also joined the conversation at the council meeting, saying he never met with anyone from Northpoint as city attorney or during his recent time as interim city manager.
When O’Dekirk mentioned the rumor of a Joliet deal already in place, Shanahan added, “That would tough without the city manager.”
The Northpoint project has only been mentioned a couple of times at Joliet City Council meetings in connection with a Joliet annexation of 138.5 acres in December for proposed warehouse development at Route 53 and Breen Road in Jackson Township.
O’Dekirk during debates over that proposal said it was unrelated to the Northpoint plan. At one point, he even stopped a Joliet resident from speaking on annexation when she began connecting it to the Northpoint project.
The Northpoint plan is hotly debated in Elwood where a public hearing before the planning and zoning commission lasted three nights to accommodate people who wanted to speak out on the project. The Elwood commission on Jan. 17 recommended approval of the annexation, which goes to the Village Board for final approval.