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Joliet mayor highlights opportunities, challenges in State of the City address

Joliet residents don’t have to worry about the idea of NorthPoint Development gaining leverage over the city because the city has its own plan, Joliet Mayor Bob O’Dekirk said at his annual State of the City address Monday at The Renaissance Center.

“The city has negotiated that NorthPoint will build a bridge from their park over Route 53 into CenterPoint Park,” he said. “All truck traffic coming or going from NorthPoint will have to annex that route. This ties in directly with what we’ve been trying to do with Houbolt Road. If this is done, truck traffic goes to Arsenal and I-55 or through the Houbolt Road up to I-80. That’s the plan to keep the trucks off the local roads and off Route 53.”

O’Dekirk said the city has made it clear to NorthPoint that if its property is annexed into Joliet, no permit will be issued until that bridge is built.

Once the Joliet Plan Commission weighs in on the project, the Joliet City Council is anticipated to give consideration to the proposal.

“From my perspective, I think we have to do as mayor what’s best for the people of Joliet, what’s best for Joliet as a whole,” O’Dekirk said.

Several new developments to watch for in 2020 are Love’s Travel Stops and Country Stores, Vasa Fitness, 13th Floor, GP Transco and Chick Fil-A.

Over the past year, the city has welcomed a number of new developments, including a Target distribution facility, Pottery Barn and Rise Dispensaries.

O’Dekirk took time to highlight the challenges the city has faced over the past year.

A presentation to those at the State of the City address shows the city generated $49.6 million in sales tax in 2019 and $50.2 million the prior year.

A decline in value held true of revenue collected from video gaming, hotel/motel tax, building permits and water tap-on fees.

“For four years as mayor, I came here and gave this speech and every year I would report positive economic news,” he said. “The city of Joliet was doing better every year. Unfortunately, I can’t say that for 2019. The good news is that the numbers aren’t off much. … I think it’s a reflection of what’s going on at city hall. It should serve as a challenge both to myself and to the council to straighten these problems out.”

O’Dekirk said a positive thing to note is assessed value of property continues to rise in the city.

“Last year when I gave this speech after four years as mayor, I reported over a four-year period, property increased 21.06% in Joliet,” he said. “I’m happy to say that trend continued in 2019. Property rose another 8.77% in Joliet.”

O’Dekirk said another positive to point out is the reduction in the amount paid by the city in legal claims.

“In 2013, the city of Joliet paid out $905,000 in legal claims,” he said. “In 2014, we paid out $2.1 million. Last year, again those numbers are way down at $250,000.”

O’Dekirk gave kudos to the work of the city’s corporation counsels for making that possible.

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