Another mystery develops at the Old Joliet Prison

For a second time this year, neighbors say they aren’t getting straight answers from City Hall

Neighbors of the former Joliet Correctional Center again say they are mystified by City Hall’s handling of what is now the Old Joliet Prison.

City Manager James Capparelli put a stop to the Joliet Block Party, just a couple of weeks before the scheduled Aug. 8 event, saying it was organized in such a way that, if allowed, the city would not be able to stop anyone from using the prison.

Members of Collins Street Neighborhood Council say they left a meeting with Capparelli not knowing what expectations they would need to meet to hold such an event, which was to be open to the general public while aimed at inviting the people who lived closest to the prison inside for a closer look.

“I’m certain there will be a community event,” Amy Sanchez said. “I don’t know what it’s going to look like based on what Mr. Capparelli said.”

The council two years ago first began discussing plans for the Joliet Block Party with the Joliet Area Historical Museum, which oversees events in the Old Joliet Prison and had sanctioned the block party.

Museum Executive Director Greg Peerbolte said he considers the Joliet Block Party postponed and not canceled.

“We’re still hopeful we can get everyone together and do something,” Peerbolte said, although he, too, did not sound quite sure how and what could be done.

“We’re going to work it out. We’ll get there,” said Capparelli, who emphasizes that he wants uniform guidelines for events held at the Old Joliet Prison.

Disc golf

Oddly enough, there were no such issues for disc golfers who were allowed to hold two tournaments at the Old Joliet Prison and given access to a wooded area that is part of the Joliet Correctional Center property.

Disc golf enthusiasts are creating a disc golf course in the woods.

Neighbors of the woods came to a City Council meeting in late May to complain that city officials would not tell them what was going on in the woods.

It was only after their complaints about dumping and unauthorized fires that City Hall drew up an agreement setting some ground rules under which the disc golf project would proceed.

Lion Electric

Elsewhere in the city, U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush, D-Chicago, got to drive an electric school bus in the parking lot of the future Lion Electric plant this week.

Rush is chairman of the House Energy Subcommittee and has been pushing legislation that provides government incentives to advance development of electric vehicles.

Lion Electric plans to build electric trucks and buses, such as the one that Rush was able to drive, at the Joliet plant. Representatives from the company gave Rush a tour of the building on Monday.

Bob Okon

Bob Okon

Bob Okon covers local government for The Herald-News