ELWOOD – At a special meeting for the Elwood Village Board of Trustees on Wednesday night, many residents called to officially close a tumultuous chapter in the town’s history and a rebuilding of trust between them and their local government.
The day before, Village President Doug Jenco announced that he was canceling a public hearing scheduled for Monday on an annexation agreement for the project, effectively killing NorthPoint’s hopes of moving forward with its more than 2,000-acre industrial park.
Jenco said he individually met with and asked each of the five village trustees how they would vote and concluded that there was not sufficient support for the project.
Wednesday’s meeting allowed for public comments and multiple residents took the time to tell the board what they thought. Almost everyone who spoke wanted to thank, or at least acknowledge Jenco and the board for ending the prospects of having Compass Business Park come to town.
Lisa Witt, an Elwood resident, presented the board with a petition with more than 630 signatures asking Jenco and the board to resolve a lawsuit which came about because of the project, to fire Village Administrator Marian Gibson, who the suit alleges secretly was working with NorthPoint, and appoint someone who was against the project to the vacant board seat, among other demands.
“These residents, both present and absent, are concerned for the future of this town and how it is being run,” Witt said. “They are angry and frustrated. They only want you to represent their best interest, and not the interest of corporations that come here.”
At least one trustee decided to make comments of his own. Dean Lowrance spoke out, he said, on behalf of the people who were in favor of the project and stressed that the decision made does not fix the current traffic problems residents face.
“The democratic, representative process, under which we all are governed, has worked just as it should have,” Lowrance said. “But not with the outcome that many wanted. The decision to reject NorthPoint Development does not stop existing truck traffic, nor does it slow the continuing increase.”
The board also approved the appointment of Joseph Berscheid, a 13-year resident of Elwood and Will County Sheriff’s deputy. He said he would have voted against the annexation agreement, but now wants to focus on improving the village’s financial condition and bring people together.
“We’ve kinda been torn apart by this whole NorthPoint thing,” Berscheid said. “I want to see us work together and try to listen to the community a little bit more.”