Mayor Bob O’Dekirk said he continued to get calls and emails from gas station operators seeking video gambling and liquor licenses in light of a special deal given Tuesday to a future Thorntons.
The Joliet City Council voted 5-3 to award the liquor licenses Thorntons needs to meet state requirements allowing video gambling machines in the future gas station at Collins and Jackson streets.
Thorntons in exchange will contribute more than $300,000 to relocate the Casseday House, perhaps the oldest house in the city and located on the future gas station property.
O’Dekirk, the city’s liquor commissioner, recommended denial of the Thornton’s license. Gas stations constantly seek liquor licenses, which a city ordinance prohibits, he said.
O’Dekirk said Friday that the calls kept coming after the council vote on Tuesday.
“I’ve gotten them from four others – three from gas stations and one from a man thinking of buying a gas station,” he said. “They all want the same license.”
The Thorntons deal waives the city ordinance prohibiting liquor sales at gas stations. It also provides a permit for liquor consumption, which Thorntons needs for video gambling. Thorntons promises to discourage on-site drinking by only making a can of warm beer at a high price available for consumption.
One gas station owner, Terry Lambert, sent an email to the mayor and city council making his own case for a liquor license. Lambert said his family opened the station at Broadway and Theodore Streets in 1957, and it “may very well be the oldest operating gas station in Joliet.”
Lambert wrote that he was “willing to meet or even exceed the offer that the city council accepted last Tuesday in return for a comparable deal.”
Interim City Manager Steve Jones responded to Lambert with an email stating that the Thorntons agreement was uniquely designed for the sake of the Casseday house.
“I know of no other historic property within the city that is slated for development by a fuel center that would warrant such consideration,” Jones wrote. “Furthermore, I am not aware of past developments where fuel centers have requested to develop property with historic structures so this situation is extremely rare and unique.”
Thorntons plans to begin construction in the spring. The house is slated to be moved in the coming months.