Incentive plans for hotels seem to become controversial in Joliet.
Incentives for a Marriott SpringHill Suites were stalled in committee on Tuesday as union leaders in the building trades voiced concerns that the construction project would not meet prevailing wage standards.
This is the second time in recent years big incentive packages for big hotel plans in Joliet have run into union opposition.
The size of the incentive package for the SpringHill Suites plan at the former Barrett’s Hardware store downtown merits watching. It’s $3.2 million.
Still, it wasn’t the size of the incentive package as much as the developer’s ability to ensure prevailing wage that was the focus of the Joliet City Council Economic Development Committee.
The attorney for Posh Hospitality suggested the matter be tabled so he could meet again with union leaders, and it was.
Council member Larry Hug, chairman of the committee, told the hotel group that the prevailing wage standard comes with the incentives to ensure that workers get decent wages on projects supported by taxpayer dollars.
“If you don’t go for the incentives, you do what you want,” Hug said. “If you go for the incentives, you have to follow the law.”
City staff saod for the project to be done at all it needs the incentives because of the scope of construction, which includes adding two floors to a building that is about a century old. We’ll see.
Duck won’t fly
On another matter, Hug wants all three members of the Economic Development Committee along with Mayor Bob O’Dekirk, to go to the International Council of Shopping Centers convention in Las Vegas in May.
Hug said there are lots of opportunities to generate interest in Joliet – more than he and Economic Development Specialist Derek Conley could take on by themselves when they went last year.
Council member Don Dickinson, who goes by the nickname “Duck,” said he’d go but not by plane.
“I’ll be driving,” Dickinson said. “I hate flying.”
Dickinson said he’d like the entire council to vote on whether the committee, which includes council member Terry Morris, should all go to the convention.
Lazy River Blues
Lots of people reacted to the news of the partial reopening of Splash Station Waterpark with complaints that the Lazy River won’t be part of the downsized swimming venue this summer. However, reader George Winke of New Lenox jokingly suggested what might be a good idea.
“Who needs a lazy river anyway,” Winke wrote. “Convert that laidback waterway into a roller blade, roller skate fun-filled outdoor arena. Heck, you can even have skateboard day! And when this takes off, offer skate rental. If you break into a sweat? Go take a dip into the pool!”
• Bob Okon is a longtime Herald-News reporter. He can be reached at 815-280-4121 or firstname.lastname@example.org.