99th District State Representative Randy Frese is sponsoring legislation in the Illinois General Assembly this Spring that will appropriate $67.6 million to demolish and remediate buildings on the Jacksonville Developmental Center grounds.
Former Governor Pat Quinn announced the closure of the facility in September 2011 with the last of the facility’s residents moved out in late November 2012. The buildings have been sitting dormant since then.
The State of Illinois’ Central Management Services placed barriers up around the property in April 2020 after fires, vagrants, and vandalism plagued the property. Later in 2020, the buildings on the property were boarded up to prevent further issues with squatters. The City of Jacksonville had problems with CMS’ mowing schedule on the grounds last year after they became overgrown. Eventually CMS contracted with balers and heavy mowers for upkeep on the property.
Frese says the property is a health, life, and safety issue to Jacksonville: “For the City of Jacksonville, they’ve got these buildings that already are and have been for a number of years now, a threat to the safety of the people around there. You don’t want abandoned buildings. You don’t want half fallen-in buildings, especially in an area of Jacksonville where, if those were gone, some development could be done. I think it’s time for the state to take action. I know there is several other of my colleagues that are looking at some buildings that Illinois has kind of abandoned and should be doing something with. I’d say, let’s at least eliminate the possibility of someone getting hurt in these buildings by doing something to get them down.”
Frese believes the state has drug it’s feet a little bit on doing anything because of the asbestos issues in the buildings and the costs that go along with it. There is also a good amount of money needed to remediate the former coal-fired power plant on the southwest corner of the property.
House Bill 1609 is currently under review in the rules committee for consideration.