No change seen in Diocese of Joliet moving plans
By Bob Okon firstname.lastname@example.org June 12, 2012 9:22PM
Updated: July 14, 2012 6:34AM
It’s been more than a week since Joliet and Crest Hill passed resolutions proclaiming opposition to the Diocese of Joliet’s plan to move. Mayors of both towns said they still hope they can sway the bishop.
But they have yet to meet with diocese representatives, and the closing date on the land deal is Friday.
Closing the deal won’t mark the end of their efforts, both mayors said.
“Even if they close, there’s still a possibility they could re-evaluate it,” Crest Hill Mayor Ray Soliman said. “There’s always room for conversation if someone want to buy the property.”
Joliet Mayor Thomas Giarrante agreed.
“Even if they close, they could still turn it (the land) over,” Joliet Mayor Thomas Giarrante said Tuesday. “They could turn it over and sell it.”
What’s missing, however, is any sign that the diocese is interested in reconsidering the deal.
Bishop Daniel Conlon is out of town this week, and diocesan officials were not available for comment Tuesday.
Conlon announced May 10 that the diocese had an agreement to buy the foreclosed strip mall on the corner of Weber Road and Division Street in Crest Hill.
The bishop expressed his regrets that the diocese would move its central office out of Joliet. But the property came at a bargain and offered the diocese an opportunity to do something it had been trying to accomplish for several years: put all of its operations in one site. Diocese offices are now spread around two locations in Joliet and another location in Romeoville.
Giarrante and Soliman, however, have called upon the bishop to reconsider. Giarrante wants the diocese to stay in its hometown. Soliman does not want to lose the potential tax revenue and retail business that he believes eventually would come from the strip center as the economy improves.
City councils in both towns passed resolutions on June 4 calling for the diocese to reconsider the move. But the votes were divided: 5-4 in Joliet and 5-3 in Crest Hill as some elected officials questioned why the cities should get involved.
Soliman said he believes Crest Hill residents back the attempt to keep the strip center a commercial operation.
“I’ve not gotten one phone call from anybody saying we’re doing the wrong thing,” he said.
Giarrante, too, said he’s heard from people who want to keep the diocese offices in Joliet. But, he acknowledged, there has been no groundswell of support for the cause.
“Irregardless,” he said, “I still think they ought to be here.”