Joliet, county officials work together for better parking
By Bob Okon email@example.com December 16, 2012 8:10PM
Joliet City Manager Tom Thanas (right) gestures for other officials to gather with (left to right) Joliet City Councilman Don Fisher, Will County Clerk Pam McGuire, Joliet Mayor Tom Giarrante and Will County Board Speaker Herbert Brooks, Jr. for a ribbon cutting to celebrate the opening of a new parking lot on Ottawa Street in Joliet, Illinois, Friday, December 14, 2012. | Joseph P. Meier~Sun Times Media
Updated: January 18, 2013 6:08AM
The city of Joliet on Friday handed over a new parking lot to Will County, a transaction that marked one of possibly many cooperative ventures to come downtown.
Both the city and county have high stakes downtown — the city for the obvious reasons and the county because most of its offices are located there.
The new parking lot at 63 S. Ottawa St. was exchanged for county land that the city is using for development of a new multimodal transportation center that would bring trains, buses and other modes of transit together downtown.
“Without the county, the transportation center could not have gone forward,” city manager Thomas Thanas said before a brief ceremony marking the opening of the new lot.
Metra riders will benefit, too, since the city is developing a 400-space surface parking lot with the help of land obtained from Will County in exchange for the lot developed on Ottawa Street. The new lot gives the county 211, spaces, which is 86 more than it had on the land traded to Joliet. And, and it’s closer to the courthouse workers who will be using it.
“We’re not done yet,” Thanas said. “There are a lot of big projects that the county has in mind. There are projects that the city has in mind.”
Two big ones for the future are a new county courthouse downtown and the opening of Chicago Street through what is now a county parking lot. Neither of those projects are close to reality, but officials said a cooperative spirit between the two governments is a good sign.
“I think you’ll see more dealings between the county and the city on developments in downtown Joliet,” county board Leader Herbert Brooks said.
Officials from the two governments began meeting in 2007 to discuss county needs in downtown Joliet. While the county wants to plan for more space, the city wants to preserve Joliet as the county seat.
“It is the county seat, and we want to keep it,” Mayor Thomas Giarrante said. “It brings people onto the streets. And, that’s what we’re trying to do with the multimodal (transportation center).”