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Northpoint opponents cry foul of warehouse developments in Joliet

Opponents to Northpoint Development are continuing to sound the alarm in response to the controversial warehouse development and its plans to build in Joliet.

Several groups on Wednesday staged a virtual town hall to spread further awareness of their opposition to Northpoint Development.

Roberto Clack of Warehouse Workers for Justice said it’s important to get the groups’ message out to the community.

Opponents to Northpoint said they are in support of a moratorium on warehouse development in the city.

“We’ve seen what happened with I-53 this past weekend,” Clack said. “It was a terrible storm, but we know that was worn down from the trucks and the beating up of our infrastructure. That happened because there’s not a plan. There’s not a plan to address the infrastructure needs, the traffic needs, or the needs of the community or the workers.”

Stephanie Irvine of Just Say No to Northpoint said the fight over the development is not over.

At its meeting on Tuesday, the Joliet City Council approved a water and sewer engineering study to further advance Northpoint Development.

Irvine said people should be skeptical of the city’s latest action because it should have been addressed before the council approved the project.

Opponents to Northpoint Development are in the midst of assembling a list of individuals who were unable to access the Joliet City Council’s meetings last month, at which point the controversial development was approved in a split vote.

Clack said legal action against Northpoint Development is in the works.

Devin Cooley of the Will County Progressives said he believes the development of Northpoint will only add to the region’s problems.

“It’s just going to cause the quality of air to be even worse,” he said. “On a spiritual level, air is one of the most sacred things in life. The first thing you do when you come into this world is breathe and it’s the last thing you do when you leave. So, I think it’s really important for us to protect the quality of our air.”

Suzanna Ibarra of the Will County Progressives said she wants it to be clear this isn’t a political issue, it’s a safety issue.

Delilah LeGrett of Just Say No to Northpoint said people need to understand that the impact of warehouse developments comes at the expense of the taxpayers.

“Our infrastructure, our schools and other services continue to be woefully underfunded,” she said. “While high property taxes in Illinois is not a unique situation in Joliet or Will County, how can our elected officials continue to justify these tax breaks for the largest corporations in the world? These developments are a continual heavy load on our roads, our bridges, the environment, the police and fire, and the ever-declining enrollment in our schools. Yet, they are allowed the lightest road to bear when it comes to paying for it.”

Mark Balentine of Warehouse Workers for Justice said he knows firsthand that warehouse developments have a tendency to treat their workers poorly.

“To me, that’s just modern-day slavery,” he said. “They’re continuing to open these warehouses and they’re continuing to bring these temp services in, but they’re not advancing nobody. So, what good is it really to the neighborhood?”

Balentine called into question if warehouse developments are opened up to create jobs in the community in an effort to reduce crime or if they’re using people to boost company profits.

“These warehouses are getting rich off the back of innocent Americans that’s trying to do good and trying to provide for their family,” he said. “Some of these young men and young women are fresh from out of jails. They are the ideal targets.”

Clack said the people need to know they have rights to, among other things, project labor agreements for the trade groups, protections for warehouse workers, and opportunities to provide proper input on warehouse developments.

“These are the kind of things that brought everyone here together,” he said.

Opponents to Northpoint encourage the public to take part in their upcoming car caravan protest of the development, Joliet Mayor Bob O’Dekirk and the Joliet City Council.

The demonstration will take place at 6 p.m. June 2 near Larkin Avenue and Jefferson Street in Joliet.

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