Park Will Replace Former County Courthouse

will county courthouse

By Nick Reiher

As discussed even before the former Will County Courthouse was torn down, the land will be leveled and prepped for a park.

How long it would remain a park is uncertain, since county officials have said they aren’t ready to sell bonds to build a new County Office Building.

They already have sold some $250 million in bonds during the past few years to building the new 10-story courthouse, a new Sheriff’s headquarters on Laraway Road and a new Health Department building.

Some County Board members at their May 16 meeting were concerned that a resolution designating the former courthouse land as a park sounded too permanent. But proponents said they just wanted to make sure the county put in a nice, safe area in the middle of Downtown Joliet.

County Board Member Janet Diaz, D-Joliet, said the county just knocked down a building made of concrete; they could tear up a park for a better use at some point.

But Diaz, chair of a committee studying uses for the former courthouse land, reminded board members the land in question was “right around the corner” from Morning Star Mission. She said they would need to make sure a park did not turn into a homeless encampment during the day.

Board Member Julie Berkowicz, R-Naperville, said there has been a thorough discussion with County Executive staff to provide a space for people coming through Downtown or taking a break from work at the courthouse or other businesses.

Board Member Joe Van Duyne, D-Wilmington, said he was concerned about putting in another park since Joliet officials have or are working on other parks in Downtown Joliet. He suggested waiting to talk with them to get their views.

County Executive Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant said whatever is done there provide a safe space for all who visit a park.

Other than suggestions of grass, flowers, benches and wrought-iron fencing amid the existing monuments on the site, the board did not consider any formal plans.

A resolution to seek proposals for development ideas was pulled from the agenda because Board Chair Judy Ogalla, R-Monee, said they haven’t discussed any specifics yet.

143rd Street Land Acquisition

In other business, the board also voted to stop any land acquisition for the road expansion project on 143rd Street in Homer Township.

Ogalla said it is inappropriate for the county to continue to buy land while there is a case pending challenging Bertino-Tarrant’s veto of board votes to stop the project.

Board Member Jackie Traynere, D-Bolingbrook, said while some residents there may not want the road expanded to five lanes, they do support a widened third lane to make traffic access easier.

She noted that County Transportation Director Jeff Ronaldson has said they would need to acquire land for the third lane expansion as well, probably the same amount as for the full widening.

Nick Reiher is editor of Farmers Weekly Review.



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