Jacksonville Mayor Andy Ezard expressed his frustration with the State of Illinois this morning over concrete barriers that have been placed on the grounds of the former Jacksonville Developmental Center.
Ezard says neither the Office of Central Management Services (CMS) or J.L.L., the group contracted to manage the property, gave the city any kind of notice that the barriers were going to be put in place.
“The whole situation with JDC is frustrating, from the years back when they closed and just things that have not been done since. We knew there was a plan set to be put in place eventually. Last we had heard, there was a fence that was going to be put around the facility and we had some input on where that fence was going to be placed. Months go by, we haven’t heard anything and now all of a sudden there are concrete barricades at entrances from access to the JDC portion.
We were able with the help of our police department to have them relocate a few of those barricades because of safety concerns from personnel of people turning into a concrete barricade.”
Ezard says it is his understanding that it was the decision of J.L.L., the property managers in charge of the grounds to set up the barricades.
Jones Lang LaSalle Incorporated was contracted by CMS in 2018 as property manager of 12 state owned properties, including the JDC grounds.
CMS privatized the management of these facilities in an effort to increase management service quality and save taxpayer money in the management of both active and shuttered state properties, according to a report by the Springfield Business Journal in October of 2018.
At the time, the estimated contract was to be for five years with an extension option possible for an additional five years, meaning the total of the contract could exceed $845 million for a decade of state owned property management.
Ezard says he understands the needs of property management to dissuade trespassing, but city officials need to be advised when streets, both private and public are closed to traffic.
“I understand that they have liability issues and that is loud and clear, they have talked about that in the past, but just better communication I feel would have helped. We could have met closer to half way in the middle and maybe given some input if they would have talked with myself and our parks superintendent and our chief of police and fire chief.”
Ezard says the barricades may actually hamper some efforts to stop the recent spree of vandalism seen at the former JDC grounds.
“I guess concrete barriers are better than a cyclone fence around the property. They might limit it to driving back through the west, but people can still walk back there and I guess that is what we have to take out of this.
As I talked with Adam Fletcher who is my head of parks, it is really doing nothing but keeping the honest people out. It’s not really going to curb anything that is going on in those buildings and access to folks who go into those buildings. It just makes it a little more difficult for our police and our responders to get back there when we hear something is going on.”
Ezard says he hopes going forward that both CMS and J.L.L. Management officials will be more forthcoming when decisions like these are made.
“It’s hard to figure out why it was done at this time. I think the timing was poor, I would have loved to have had a heads up to let our citizens and the aldermen know before they were being placed. But that didn’t happen so, they are in place now and we will just make the best of it we can.”
A call by WLDS News to the Office of Central Management Services Surplus Property Division has not been returned as of press time.