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  • Megann Horstead

Joliet council looks to bring Rialto Theatre drama to end


The Joliet City Council recently sought to close the curtain on talks regarding the Rialto Square Theatre by securing an agreement and approving the adoption a 2017 budget with a $500,000 allotment.

In a 6-1 vote, officials worked out an arrangement with the Rialto board that establishes a set of conditions and they are outlined as follows:

  • One-half payment is to be conveyed to the Rialto upon approval of the intergovernmental agreement.

  • The remainder of the allotment is to be paid to the theatre on July 1, given that a minimum of 30 live performances are booked and/or performed.

  • The Rialto must pay for both its 2017 payroll taxes and 2016 audit on time.

  • The theatre cannot request additional funds from city for 2017.

Recent revelations in the city’s effort to work toward an agreement were met with a change in circumstance when members of the Rialto Board resigned.

Mayor Bob O’DeKirk said the city will continue to look at finding a way forward for the theatre.

“I have four appointments that are made by the Mayor’s Office that will be voted on by the council,” he said. “Because of the resignation of the board, the theatre’s unable to do any business currently. So, I think it’s imperative that we fill not only our four appointments, but at least one governor’s slot needs to get filled for the board to have a quorum to vote to do anything, including to make any payments.

O’DeKirk intends to present four names to the city council at their Jan. 17 meeting, at which time they will look to vote.

O’DeKirk said he would like anyone whose interested in serving the Rialto board to reach out to his office or send in a resume.

“I’ve already received dozens of people who want to apply for this position,” he said.

O’DeKirk suggested that besides making four appointments, the city should look to create a blue ribbon panel for the Rialto.

“One thing I’ve been consistent on through this entire process—and I’m going to stay consistent on—is I was never interested in a temporary solution to the problem,” he said. “We held people’s feet to the fire as a council because we’re not just going write another check and send it over to the theatre. Having said that, we’ve approved the intergovernmental agreement. We need to—I believe—continue on the road and look for a long-term solution. There are significant problems with the theatre with the finances.”

O’DeKirk noted they need to bring together qualified, educated and motivated individuals and community leaders and work together to solve the problem.

Plans to establish the blue ribbon panel will be brought up at the council’s next meeting.

Councilman Larry Hug was the lone dissenting vote. Councilwoman Jan Quillman was not present at the meeting.

Public hearing held hospital-area TIF District

The city of Joliet is looking to advance the effort to create a tax increment finance district for the commercial area adjacent to, and including Presence–Saint Joseph Medical Center.

Joliet is looking to stabilize the neighborhood by using an economic development tool that freezes the tax base to allow new monies to encourage redevelopment.

Officials held a public hearing regarding for the project to allow the public time to come forward with questions or comments. Also at that meeting, a consultant for S.B. Friedman gave a presentation regarding the project.

The city first looked into creating the proposed TIF for properties located on Republic and Springfield Avenues in 2015, only to add Hammes Avenue and parcels owned by Presence-Saint Joseph Medical Center.

Officials will vote on the TIF District at a later date.

South Ridgewood Sanitary District is no more

The Joliet council sought to dissolve the South Ridgewood Sanitary District formed by Joliet Township to eliminate human waste pollution in Will County.

Approving the agreement allows the city to become the operator of the district.

In 2016, a dispute arose between Joliet and South Ridgewood Sanitary District regarding sanitary sewerage. The city said they learned that flow meters of the district have not been recording accurately the amount of sewage flow without repeated “blow-outs”, and is creating costs that deter Joliet’s economic ability.

The court entered an order in late December 2016 dissolving the district.

Easement for county’s sheriff’s new facility

Joliet officials took steps to accept a grant of easement from Will County to allow for the extension of a water main to provide service to the new Will County Sheriff’s facility.

Council action allows the county to continue its effort to construct the project located at the southeast corner of Route 52 and Laraway Road.

A portion of the improvements which will be owned and maintained by Joliet are located on county property, and it will allow water to extend to land outside city limits.

The matter was resolved at no cost to Joliet or Will County.

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