Joliet, IL update; plan for “pocket park” moves forward

By Sandy . . . The Joliet, IL City Council met the evening of August 2. One of the agenda items was the purchase by the city of a property on N. Center Street, one block from the NewDay Apartments on Cora Street. This is the property that Joliet mayor Bob O’Dekirk has announced would be bought in order to erect enough equipment to have it classified as a playground in order to force from their home six men on the Illinois sex offender registry living at the apartments.

The item involving the Center Street property was called about thirty minutes into the meeting and was, not surprisingly, approved.

One council member asked if this would create a situation where the residents of the Cora Street apartments would have to leave, and after receiving an affirmative answer, he had the intelligence to ask specifically if a “grandfather” clause would be included and was told no.

A grandfather clause is designed to allow those already present in a newly-restricted area to remain there. Such clauses are standard practice in the erection of new exclusionary restrictions as it raises constitutional concerns, as well as being devoid of human compassion, to kick people already living somewhere out on the street. The councilman who asked the question apparently felt no such compassion or concern, as the vote to approve the purchase of the property was unanimous.

So what happens now?

The house on Center will need to be moved or demolished.

Landscaping will be needed to prepare the ground. Playground equipment will need to be purchased and installed and, one presumes, some sort of legal action completed in adding a children’s playground to the city’s properties of parks and playgrounds.

Will the men on Cora be mailed eviction notices? This is just one of many unknowns. A spokesman for the NewDay Apartments has said that the men there will be relocated to other properties and that men who are on the registry but not subject to the 500 feet exclusion zone law will be placed in the apartments. The mayor has indicated there are laws that will make the Cora Street building off-limits for all registrants.

Some other unknowns, but issues worth considering, are:

Will some of the current registrants on Cora end up joining the ranks of Illinois’ homeless population?

The mayor says this is needed to protect children; virtually all sexually abused children are victims of persons not on a registry and not strangers in their lives but rather trusted family members, peers, and authority figures; how is this action protecting children?

Could the money spent on this action have been better spent on a program in the schools focusing on preventing child sexual abuse?

There are several other parks and playgrounds in the area; will this one be utilized by children at all? Does anyone care?

And finally, the clergyman who gave the invocation at the beginning of the meeting included among the petitions a prayer for protection for the city’s residents; did he mean all the city’s residents, including the residents living at 1000 Cora Street, or did he mean just some of the city’s residents?

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9 Thoughts to “Joliet, IL update; plan for “pocket park” moves forward”

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  1. A Mistake They Made

    This is an opportunity to take this to court come on ACLU. This is blatant wrong use of a law against its legislative intent in order to punish, move people from their homes.

    1. H n H

      I don’t think anyone here is serious about seeing anything come of this. THIS is outright cruel and unusual punishment. How anyone can’t see that (let alone a judge) is beyond me. I say let them put up their stupid park and force the men to move. Then all of them get together and sue the crap out of the city for outright blatent defamation and using a “civil regulatory” scheme to force people to move they don’t like. The registry isn’t supposed to be punishment, cruel or otherwise. But forcing people to relocate and using the laws to do it is OK? How… How on earth this isn’t being being setup for one heck of a battle is beyond me. Of course, a lot of the things on here are beyond my understanding.

  2. Ray

    What ever happened to forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those……

    1. Josh

      Americans don’t believe in that. The United States is the biggest violator of human rights in the world.

  3. WC_TN

    If this blatant weaponization of the registration law does not prove an outright punitive intent, then we may as well pack it in and call it quits because if this doesn’t prove the case, there’s no proving it. Period.
    This puts the true impetus for this kind of action in plain view; personal animus. The people wanting to do this are of the most despicable sort and should be ashamed of themselves.

    1. Tim in WI

      Right, but how does a guy point to these facts in the context of FTR? I appreciate your choice of description ” weaponization” as it refers to SOME the people’s underlying intent behind the park’s building. Nice choice given the timing of The Speaker of the House is in Taiwan for a visit. Some certainly intend to weaponize the database driven infrastructure. SOR certainly reflects the same underlying intent to impose affirmative restraint. Why would one property be different than another? Illinois has long had “ownership restrictions” for felony sex conviction. I personally know one such man in Illinois who’s grandfathered in his home 6 blocks from an elementary. I went there in the 1970’s. Joliet city derives revenue from the famous prison there. Its a huge institution! The people gladly took the money to build it there, now look at them as the money dries up. Recently population declines have plagued Illinois large cities. Go figure.

  4. A Mistake They Made

    I own a home that is grandfathered. They tried to make me lose my house and failed. Indiana court at least got that right, but the scum in Indianapolis still tried. The good Sherriff running the SO program at the time was the one to point it out to them, and even did the paperwork. He was the right guy for the job too bad he is gone now. If you owned the house before the registry restrictions were put in place they cannot make you move.

  5. CJB

    Ms Sandy

    There seems to be problems with city councils of late….the hatred they have….the fact that they pre-decide amongst themselves even before citizens bring empirical data to them….

    the same thing happened the other day in the Brevard County Florida…..
    …if you watch that city council’s video….any reasonable person would conclude that all of the members on that council already had voted…and their response to citizen’s testifying was rude and NOT professional….
    -and there was a Lady there that drove 4 hours round trip to commandeer the whole thing; and she too, was given disdain!

    From Joliet to Brevard County Florida…..WOW!

  6. Brian

    Wow, they’re trying this crap again? I remember in 2012 I think or before that, they did this in I think, California to force people from their homes. I remember so many people lost their homes and jobs on the count of these pocket parks. I was terrified they were going to do this in my state as well, they attended it here in PA but it as stopped before it even hit the ground And now Illinois has come up with the idea, I wonder what politicians moved to Illinois from California to tell them how to get rid of SO’s quote on quote, legally but it’s not constitutionally legal. I’m sure they’ll get it passed somehow and it will take years to get through the courts and many will loose a lot. It will be ruled unconstitutional and it will be to late, because the damage is done.