State Senator Steve McClure is making it his priority to get something done with the Jacksonville Developmental Center as part of his current agenda. McClure says he’s had recent talks with Governor J.B. Pritzker and Illinois Central Management Services about the property that’s been closed since November 2012. “When we were discussing the capital bill, I was discussing with the governor’s people about the JDC. It’s a really big deal to me. It’s in the heart of Jacksonville by real estate. It’s just sitting there, rotting away and we can’t even do anything with the buildings anymore. They’ve been going back and forth on it. I’ve had conversations with the governor about it. I’ve had conversations with CMS about it. CMS still has not gotten me how much it’s going to cost to demolish the buildings that are on the grounds. They just give me rough estimates of $15 million to $20 million.”
McClure has even gone so far to file legislation for the Spring session to get CMS to move on several of the state’s vacant properties. Co-Sponsored with 43rd District Democrat Senator Pat McGuire of Crest Hill and 34th District Democrat Steve Stadelman of Rockford, the bill requires CMS to assess surplus properties and report that to the General Assembly. “I did say that I’ve had enough of this stuff, and I filed a bill that says that CMS has to every other year come up with how much these abandoned buildings across the entire state are costing the state every year, how much to cost to demolish them, and deal with their environmental issues. The JDC grounds has an old power plant and it sits on top of a graveyard. CMS needs to come up with a plan of what to do with these properties. The bill also establishes a fund to tear down these properties. It’s about the best I can do at this moment, but I’m still trying to work closely with the governor’s office.”
McClure says that CMS has pushed back against the idea, saying that by letting it set idle, it’ll be easier to sell. “CMS came back to me and said that they can’t tear it down but it’s going to be cheaper to just sell the property and then we can offer it to somebody. I told them that no one is going to want the property in its current condition. You could give it away for free and give them $10 million on top of that and they still wouldn’t take it because it’s going to cost another $10 million to tear things down. It’s just a mess.”
McClure says he and Representative C.D. Davidsmeyer will continue to work in the General Assembly to lobby to get the building demolished and the property sold. Meanwhile, Senate Bill 3300 has had its first reading and is currently before the Senate Assignments committee.