Government

Joliet alley fight has dragged into a second year

Topic becoming testier as time goes on

A standoff over a Cunningham neighborhood alley reached new intensity last week when one councilwoman faced off with the mayor over the issue and another called on the city manager to put the matter on a City Council agenda.

If the alley policy that City Manager James Capparelli has stalled for eight months is going on an agenda, it apparently won’t be Wednesday when the Land Use and Legislative Committee meets. The agenda for the meeting came out Friday with no mention of an alley ordinance.

Capparelli said at the Monday council meeting that he would refer the matter back to the committee, which on Feb. 3 voted 3-0 to move the policy to the full City Council for a vote that never has been taken.

The dispute over the alley and the alley policy has entered its 13th month.

“I feel this has gone on long enough, and it’s a matter of safety for our residents,” council member Sherri Reardon said at a Tuesday council meeting, speaking specifically to Capparelli on the issue.

Residents in the Cunningham neighborhood in 2012 petitioned the city to close off the alley on one end after thefts from garages and backyards. The alley was reopened in September 2020 after Mayor Bob O’Dekirk said he received complaints, and a critic of the mayor who lives along the alley believes the reopening was aimed at him.

Capparelli since February has said he would send the policy, which formalizes rules for restricting alley access, back to committee for reconsideration, and Reardon said it’s time to send the proposal already approved by the committee to the full council for a vote.

Speaking directly to Capparelli, Reardon said, “I respectfully request in person as I requested last week via email, for which I had no response, to get this policy put on the next agenda.”

Reardon’s comments followed those of Councilwoman Bettye Gavin at a Monday meeting where she accused Capparelli of ignoring her on the matter and then said Mayor Bob O’Dekirk attempted to bully her on the issue. O’Dekirk objected, and the two had a public argument that appeared to be patched up by the Tuesday meeting when they addressed the issue again on friendly terms.

John Sheridan, the president of the Cunningham Neighborhood Council who contends the alley reopening was aimed at him, came to the Tuesday meeting and called O’Dekirk “a town bully.”

“I don’t have a fight with John Sheridan,” O’Dekirk said Monday in his exchange with Gavin.

Capparelli said he continues to have concerns about restricted alleys and suggested the city could consider a $100 charge added to water bills for residents who have their alleys restricted, a proposal that Sheridan labeled as “intimidation.”