Local representatives continue to push the State of Illinois to do something with the former Jacksonville Developmental Center grounds as rumors of the placement of fencing around the property continue.
Reports indicate bids for mowing at the grounds are being sought out by property management, that specify the mowing is to be done outside of a fence. While rumors have continued to circulate that a fence is to be placed around the facility by management, no official plans have been announced.
The bids come after concrete barriers were placed at entrances to the grounds the last week of April, which J.L.L., the company contracted to manage the grounds, did not notify city officials of until after they had been placed.
50th District Senator Steve McClure says even his contacts at the office of Illinois Central Management Services were surprised by the recent developments at JDC.
“I wasn’t told about those developments by anybody other than the mayor of Jacksonville, and I had to reach out personally to CMS to see what was going on, and they seemed surprised by the developments themselves.
So there is a lot of confusion right now for various reasons, and I know myself and the mayor and Representative Davidsmeyer, we are all trying to do what we can to make that situation work because right now, things are not going well for the JDC area.”
100th District Representative C.D. Davidsmeyer says he and Senator McClure are continuing to seek answers from CMS on plans for the grounds, as word continues to circulate about plans the management company has for the site.
“The barricades going up, they talked about putting up fences, there is talk about not mowing the entire property and think about what that would be like in the center of town with wild life and what not.
Senator McClure and I as well as the mayor have been pushing very hard against CMS trying to drop this on us and then look the other way. So we are making sure they are very aware of what’s going on and that we are not going to let them do that to our town.”
Davidsmeyer told WLDS News in late April, he took part in a walking tour of the grounds when he was member of the Jacksonville City Council along with CMS officials back when the facility closed.
“Before I was State Representative, when I was and alderman on the city council, we did a walk through, and basically we sat down and CMS at that point said, do you want us to board up the windows now, or do you want us to do it later? And we were still pushing the state to try and find another use for it, so we didn’t want the windows boarded up at the time.
It’s frustrating to see a decade later to see that CMS has done absolutely nothing, and the state has done absolutely nothing but try and ignore the problem.”
McClure says plans to put a fence around the grounds, along with the barricades and windows that have been boarded up, only shows the state’s lack of intent to move the property forward, either by selling it off, or demolishing the buildings.
“And it doesn’t demonstrate that we’re going to be doing anything with that area for a long time. There is a lot of benefit to selling it, and to tearing it down to make it safer, and so I’m going to keep pushing for that.
But we need to be informed on what’s happening there and unfortunately we haven’t been, and it shouldn’t be a surprise to myself or to anyone else when something happens there because we need to be told about it, and we need to have input on it. Unfortunately at this time, it’s not happening.”
McClure says he had been told by CMS officials prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, that the State of Illinois did not have enough money in the budget to level the complex, and that is likely now a much worse financial situation due to the pandemic.
Still he and Davidsmeyer both say they intend to continue their efforts to see the state works with city leaders to find a usable purpose for the grounds.