Asylum grant fallout: Joliet Park District rescinds lease on Hartman Center

Duly Health & Care also says it was unaware it was included in grant application

Joliet Township’s plan for asylum-seeker services includes three welcome centers and a clinic, but the lease for one potential center has been canceled.

The Joliet Park District canceled a pending lease with the township after learning that its Hartman Recreation Center was included in the list of welcome centers.

“We found out last week that the Hartman center was listed in that grant, and we immediately rescinded the lease,” park district Executive Director Brad Staab said Monday.

Meanwhile, a spokeswoman for Duly Health & Care said the organization did not know its Joliet medical facility on Glenwood Avenue was being included among the welcome centers listed on the grant application.

The park district is the second public body that has disassociated itself after being included in the $8.6 million grant awarded by the state Sept. 29.

Joliet Mayor Terry D’Arcy, whose office is listed in the grant as a supporter, has said he was unaware of the grant until it was announced by the governor’s office and has asked that the township withdraw its application.

Staab said township representatives never mentioned the potential use of the Hartman Recreation Center as a welcome center for asylum-seekers when seeking a lease for the facility.

“That was not what they told us the space would be used for,” Staab said.

Park officials believed that the township intended to use the Hartman Center, located at 511 Collins St., for additional office space and community programs, he said.

“We were shocked when we found out that the grant had been applied for and Hartman had been included,” Staab said.

The grant application does not mention the park district or Hartman center by name, but it lists the facility address as a welcome center for asylum-seekers coming to Joliet.

Health care officials in the dark

The application also lists 2100 Glenwood Ave., which is the location of a major medical office for Duly Health & Care, presumably as the welcome clinic in a list of facilities to ease asylum-seekers’s transition into the Joliet area.

But a Duly spokeswoman said the organization first learned Monday that the facility was listed in the grant application.

“We have not had discussions with the township or with the Will-Grundy Medical Clinic about the grant,” Duly spokeswoman Maria McGowan said.

The Will-Grundy Medical Clinic is listed as a partner organization with Joliet Township on the grant application.

Joliet Township Supervisor Angel Contreras did not respond to requests for comment.

Joliet Township Supervisor Angel Contreras talks about various violence prevention services and support that the township will be offering.

Contreras previously said that the $8.6 million grant would be used to support services already being provided to asylum-seekers by the Spanish Community Center and Will-Grundy Medical Center.

But the proposal for welcoming centers and a welcoming clinic along with support staff indicates an expansion of services for asylum-seekers in the Joliet area.

Two other buildings listed in the grant as potential welcome centers are the Peter Claver Center at 180 S. Chicago St. and a building at 300 N. Eastern Ave., which would be across the street from the Spanish Community Center.

The grant is expected to be a topic of public discussion when the Joliet Township board meets for its regular monthly meeting at 5 p.m. Tuesday. The meeting has been moved from the township offices to the Billie Limacher Bicentennial Park theater with the expectation that of a large number of people will attend with questions and comments about the grant.