Pulse: Illiana forces choice between crops and concrete
June 30, 2013 6:34PM
Will County Executive Larry Walsh. | Supplied photo
Updated: August 2, 2013 6:07AM
Will County farmers are not happy that the Illiana Expressway is going to slice through their turf.
Planners, builders, unions and politicians are thrilled with the Illiana for the jobs and road congestion relief they say it will provide.
Larry Walsh is caught between both worlds: He’s a farmer who was elected Will County executive. And he is in favor of the Illiana Expressway.
“I sympathize with them, I truly do,” he said of the disgruntled farmers.
But Will County’s population is expected to jump to 1.2 million people in the next couple of decades, Walsh said last week during an Illiana vendor forum in Rosemont.
“And if we don’t plan for tomorrow, then when (population growth) does happen, we’ll be looking at projects like what we just did with Route 59 through Plainfield and Shorewood, disrupting businesses,” he said.
“I know about farmland and the farmers love the soil,” he said. “But at the end of the day, you know, we’ve got to be prepared.”
Susan Shea, the state’s aeronautics director, sported silver airplane earrings during a meeting on the South Suburban Airport held at Governors State University last week. But that was just one pair of many, she confessed to Pulse.
“I’m sure I have at least 100,” she said.
Shea buys them at accessories shops or airport museums and she recently tried to sort them all by color on her dining room table. And while she’s partial to planes, she also is a fan of airports and has no favorites, she told the crowd at the meeting.
“You know, I love them all,” she said when asked about Midway and O’Hare.
The city of Joliet’s $2.4 million tax incentive for a new hotel/conference center is likely to be discussed at the Monday city council meeting.
If that sounds expensive, City Manager Thomas Thanas noted that Naperville has proposed $7.5 million worth of incentives for a similar project there. Like the Joliet incentive package, the Naperville proposal includes rebates on local hotel and sales taxes.
Hotel/conference centers typically get built with the help of local incentives, Thanas said. In Joliet, he added, such a development has been “on the city wish list for the last 15 years.”
who brought ya
That may be so, but some the tax incentives are getting a closer look after Joe Pecora, owner of Heroes West Sports Grill, questioned the use of city money to help build a project that is expected to include a competing sports-themed restaurant very close to his place.
A letter from Pecora to Thanas, the mayor and council members includes, “Perhaps Joliet should keep in mind an old business axiom: the most important customer is the one that you already have.”
Will County Board Speaker Herbert Brooks Jr.’s most vivid memory of Paula Deen’s visit to Joliet for the grand opening of her restaurant was the way she fussed over Walsh’s curly locks.
“I remember how she talked about how much she liked the white hair of Larry Walsh,” Brooks said.
Those were happier days for Deen, who has been in a heap of trouble since news broke about past racial comments she had made. Caesars Entertainment last week announced it would rebrand Paula Deen restaurants at its casinos, including Harrah’s Joliet.
Reporters Cindy Wojdyla Cain and Bob Okon
contributed to Pulse.