IYC-Joliet could become another state-owned eyesore
By Bob Okon firstname.lastname@example.org February 26, 2013 5:14PM
Nick Kanellopoulos, with the Department of Central Management Services, takes a picture of the sign for the last 1853 medieval prison (center) during a tour of the shuttered Joliet Correctional Center in July. | Matthew Grotto~Sun-Times Media
Updated: March 28, 2013 6:40AM
The state of Illinois already has become a problem property owner in the city, and it could get worse if Illinois Youth Center-Joliet is neglected.
IYC-Joliet closed last week with no indication of whether it will be put back to use. But it is likely to be a year before the state determines what to do with the youth prison on McDonough Street.
The state already has a bad track record with Joliet Correctional Center, which shut down in 2002 and has been falling apart since.
Early signs are IYC-Joliet could become the city’s next state-owned eyesore.
“It does need work,” Mayor Thomas Giarrante said Tuesday.
Giarrante said he learned during a visit to IYC-Joliet that maintenance already was being put off because the facility was going to be closed.
“They needed to do some roof work, and they needed to do some work on the windows,” the mayor said. “They weren’t doing it.”
Giarrante said he worries the state will take no better care of IYC-Joliet than it has Joliet Correctional Center.
“I hope they just don’t let it sit like the penitentiary on Collins Street and just let it deteriorate,” Giarrante said. “That’s gotten so bad.”
The city wants to make use of Joliet Correctional Center, a classic, limestone prison structure used as a setting in TV and movies and recognized enough that it might make some sort of tourist attraction. But a tour of the prison two years ago, conducted to try to stir interest in redevelopment, showed a building that had been broken into by vandals and copper robbers, and left by the state to rust and water damage.
Joliet Correctional Center was built in 1858. It’s much older than IYC-Joliet, which opened in 1959. But the state’s money problems have been getting worse since it started to shortchange the maintenance budget at Joliet Correctional Center.
What’s next for IYC-Joliet is uncertain.
“It’s still very early in the process,” said Alka Nayyar, a spokeswoman for the Illinois Department of Central Management Services.
Nayyar said she did not know if any potential buyers have expressed interest in IYC-Joliet.
But the state goes through a certain process before disposing of property.
First, the property will have to be declared surplus. Then, IYC-Joliet would be offered to other state agencies, which have 60 days to declare interest. Then, Central Management Services decides whether it is better to sell the property. If so, it is offered to local governments, which have 60 says to buy IYC-Joliet. If local governments are not interested, IYC-Joliet would go for public sale.
All that is likely to take more than a year.
State Sen. Pat McGuire, D-Joliet, said he already has been checking on what will happen with IYC-Joliet.
Staff from the Department of Juvenile Justice is staying on site to inventory property and records. The time line for that, McGuire said, is likely to be “short of a year” but definitely several months.
McGuire said he and state Rep. Larry Walsh Jr., D-Elwood, are watching what happens with the property in part because of what’s happened with the Joliet Correctional Center.
“We don’t want that property to become an eyesore,” McGuire said. “We don’t want it to become vandalized. We contacted Juvenile Justice because we want to see it put to good use as soon as possible.”