Local News

Marseilles council defends expansion to Interstate 80

Mayor says no community has regretted building around interstate

“Unfortunately, we’ve had way too many people on the council over the decades that don’t want to see a city grow and prosper. They would rather we increase the property taxes every year.”

—  Marseilles Mayor Jim Hollenbeck

A former Marseilles commissioner, Bob Davis, approached the council Wednesday to ask it to pull the plug on the project that will extend water and sewer lines to Interstate 80.

Davis said the project places an unfair burden on taxpayers as the city has borrowed money to pay for the project. He also said taking control of Rutland Street from La Salle County was a mistake.

Marseilles commissioners and Mayor Jim Hollenbeck all disagreed resoundingly.

Commissioner Gary Lewey said the discussion on getting sewer and water lines to the Marseilles exit on Interstate 80 has been ongoing since before he became a council member in 1970.

“Myself and the mayor all the way back then said our next step was to get out to the interstate,” Lewey said. “You look at the surrounding towns, or even at Utica. They refused to annex out to 80 and La Salle came right in on their back door and boom. Now they can’t go anywhere. I’ll never regret doing what we’re going to do because it’s the future of our city.”

To illustrate the growth around Interstate 80, Hollenbeck said he worked for the police department in Minooka years ago when it didn’t have a 24-hour police department. He said officers waited for the bars to close at night and called it a night themselves.

“There was nothing on Ridge Road,” Hollenbeck said. “Absolutely nothing but a BP Station all the way down and now the cars go all the way up to U.S. 52 and they have a new school up there. They had to put another water tower up. They probably gained 10,000 people.”

Hollenbeck said no community has ever regretted expanding toward I-80.

City Engineer Mike Etscheid said Marseilles has annexation agreements with a number of property owners on the way to the interstate where it will limit what fees are going to be, but they’re still significant fees, and he hopes that money will help pay for the project over the years.

“Unfortunately, we’ve had way too many people on the council over the decades that don’t want to see a city grow and prosper,” Hollenbeck said. “They would rather we increase the property taxes every year.”