Joliet takes action on comprehensive plan, beautification project

Comprehensive plan aborted during COVID-19 pandemic gets going again

Joliet plans to improve the appearances of heavily traveled entryways into the city, like this Six Corners intersection, with a $542,000 landscaping plan. June 17, 2024

Joliet should become a city that looks nicer and is planned better after actions taken by the City Council on Tuesday.

The council approved a $542,000 beautification project aimed at dressing up key spots of the city and hired two firms at a price of $703,000 to get going on the first comprehensive plan for Joliet since the 1950s.

Residents should see the results of the beautification project this summer as the city cleans up and enhances 13 entryway locations with perennials designed to create visual impact that will endure through the winter and into future years.

Council member Joe Clement said the beautification project addresses a need expressed for years by residents, who have complained about too many weeds and other eyesores at Joliet entryways.

Councilman Joe Clement speaks out against the grant money  Joliet Township board applied for to help asylum seekers without the city of Joliet’s knowledge at the Joliet City Council Meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2023.

“I don’t think it goes far enough, but at least we’re taking the initiative and doing what people say we need to do,” Clement said.

The entryway improvements were a goal set by Mayor Terry D’Arcy during his 2023 campaign for mayor.

D’Arcy said the improvements will help “rebrand” Joliet and commented on a city meeting with a developer who made the remark, “It’s only Joliet.”

“Man, did he get me mad,” D’Arcy said, adding that spending on landscape improvements aims to improve the city’s image. “These investments are great for the city, great for the attitude.”

Mayor Terry D’Arcy addresses the public saying he did not approve, agree to or sign a grant agreement to help asylum seekers at the Joliet City Council Meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2023 in Joliet.

D’Arcy also pushed for the launch of a comprehensive plan, although that project began before he became mayor. The city had hired a planner in 2019 to develop a comprehensive plan. The project was halted by the COVID-19 pandemic, however, because it required public meetings that became impossible.

On Tuesday, the council restarted the process by approving a $564,250 contract with the Lamar Johnson Collaborative to develop a comprehensive plan and a $138,768 contract with Urban3 to provide economic analysis on the impact of the plan.

Developing a comprehensive plan is a long-term process that could take up to two years.

Council member Cesar Guerrero said the comprehensive plan is a “monumental” project for the city with “decades-long implications.”

Councilman Cesar Guerrero waits for the start of the Joliet City Council meeting on Tuesday, July 18th, 2023.

It’s also demanded by residents, council member Susanna Ibarra said.

“Outside of truck traffic, this is the one thing that the public wants,” Ibarra said, noting that public complains about trucks go along with a demand for better planning for development in Joliet.

Like the last attempt to develop a comprehensive plan foiled by the COVID-19 pandemic, this one also will be designed for public involvement in shaping the city’s future.

“Inviting the public in to see what they really want is the biggest piece,” Ibarra said.

The comprehensive plan consultants were approved with an 8-1 vote, with council member Larry Hug dissenting. He said he’s in favor of the plan but believes the council should have been more involved in picking the planners.

The vote was 9-0 for the beautification project.