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Year in review: Joliet and Shorewood celebrate year of progress, prepare for challenges ahead

The city of Joliet and the village of Shorewood have accomplished many feats in 2016.

This year, Joliet officials took steps to finalize plans for the county courthouse. The project’s development is set to supersede the construction of a new sheriff’s office building, which is scheduled to see completion by the latter half of 2017. Both projects intend to assist in the workflow of county operations.

Some of the village of Shorewood’s capital improvement projects this year included the installation of new water meters, Seil Road sewage lift station upgrades and roadway improvements.

In Joliet, many came out to support the Rialto Square Theatre at its 90th anniversary celebration earlier this year. From silent film and backstage tours to a ceremonial cake cutting and a champagne toast, the day-long event offered a plethora activities to indulge in.

The Shorewood Area Chamber of Commerce’s Crossroads Festival turned 40 in 2016. The festivities got underway in August as many looked to celebrate the season at the annual event.

On another note, both Joliet and Shorewood officials worked to amend and clarify city ordinances that govern what’s allowed and not allowed within the limits of each respective municipality.

Rules were amended to allow pigs as pets in Joliet. The matter came before the council in December after officials received an anonymous complaint. City rules denote that one pig is allowed per household, provided that fencing is used for enclosure.

After much debate earlier this year, Shorewood officials amended an ordinance outlining rules for massage establishments. The measure looks to align village codes with state licensure requirements. Issues had arisen a number of times over the years at massage establishments. Prior to being amended, the language of the ordinance appeared to undermine the authority of state licensures.

There are also challenges for the Joliet-Shorewood area in the months to come.

Long before 2016 got underway, Joliet officials were met by a need to revive the downtown area. Council action in recent months looks to change that story by reexamining the city’s relationship to the Rialto Square Theatre. The powers of Joliet’s inspector general were expanded this month. In November, the city manager proposed a budget without funding for the Rialto.

Shorewood officials are looking to establish a Route 59 and Jefferson Street tax increment finance district. A TIF is a measure that freezes a property tax base to allow new dollars generated to fund redevelopment. The proposed project is eligible for some attention in part to the village qualifying as a conservation area, or a region hindered by age and in need of improvement. The Shorewood Village Board of Trustees is slated to vote on the TIF district early next year.

Some of the ways these neighboring communities work together to serve residents include water and sewer operations, schooling and public transportation.

Part of the Joliet-Shorewood area success this year can be attributed to continued partnerships through intergovernmental agreements with school districts and other governmental agencies.

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