Negotiations Ongoing About State of JDC Grounds

By Benjamin Cox on June 20, 2022 at 11:35am

A recent photo of Emmanuel North Cemetery from Michigan Avenue. The state has not mowed the cemetery nor the innermost surrounding grounds of JDC in several months.

Negotiations remain ongoing about the mowing of the former Jacksonville Developmental Center grounds by the State of Illinois.

Mayor Andy Ezard provided an update to the City Council last Monday night saying that the state has agreed to change some of the scope of their mowing to include mowing of more of the grounds.

Ezard says that the grass is now at the length where hay sickles will likely need to be used. Ezard says the whole situation is unacceptable: “Now, they did change their scope. They are going to mow more than their original scope, but it’s still unacceptable that this is happening. This is unique. I know that there are other facilities throughout the state that they don’t touch like ours. This is in the middle of our town, and I point that out to [CMS] every time, and it borders our Community Park, which is maintained and utilized by many of our residents. So, we are unique. I think our lawmakers, C.D. [Davidsmeyer] and Steve [McClure], are pushing. I’m going to keep pushing. Hopefully we will find that person within [CMS] or the State that says ‘Hey, let’s just mow it’ and it’ll get done.”

Ezard says that he’s open to any ideas from citizens on how to pursue getting the grass mowed through the proper channels. He told the council that some local farmers have reached out to the state about getting a contract to bale the grounds. City Attorney Dan Beard said that farmers can’t just go in and do the job without a contract and permission to do it. It also is a liability issue.

Ezard told the council that proper paperwork of non-compliance have been filed and sent to Central Management Services and the Governor’s Office.

Ezard says he’s not thought about bringing a lawsuit through the courts yet: “I’ve not gone down that path yet. However, I’m open to any interaction. I’m open to any advice from folks that have any ideas on how to fix the situation. Please know that we are still pushing the state on this.”

The grounds have brought about continued safety and security issues and concern since it was closed by Governor Pat Quinn in 2012.