Monday, May 17, 2010
Mayor Wasowicz brings back major funding commitments from Springfield
By Ray Hanania
(Village of Justice Media Writer)
Mayor Kris Wasowicz met with an array of legislative leaders on April 22 in Springfield, and returned with promises to complete several projects left unfulfilled by the past village administration.
Among the projects that will be revived is the long dormant plan to improve infrastructure to deal with flooding problems dating back to the early 1990s in the northern area of the Village of Justice.
More than $800,000 had been promised but the past village administration failed to use the funds to address the area’s flooding problems, Wasowicz said.
Another problem addressed during the meetings was the planned cleanup of a contaminated waste area related to the former Brownfield Project closed many years ago located at Archer and 86th Avenues.
“All I had to do was present our case to the legislative leaders, to let them hear from us directly and they responded with complete support for our needs. They were glad that we were showing initiative,” Wasowicz said.
Wasowicz met with State Senators Martin Sandoval, Michael Bond, Louis Viverito, Illinois House Speaker Michael J. Madigan, and later with officials of the Illinois EPA.
"In the 1990s, we have severe flooding problems in the village. The northern area of the village had been declared a disaster area. The state originally had set aside $800,000 so the village could address those problems but the past administration never applied for the money. The prior administration wanted to use the flood money instead for other projects and they ended up losing everything,” Wasowicz explained.
“We had received almost $800,000 from the government to do the flood project. But the former administration never took advantage of that funding. After four years, the grant was yanked and the village lost $800,000. But the plans and engineering studies were still completed and intact.”
Wasowicz said resurrecting the flood improvement plan has always been one of his priorities.
“I am not going to wait four more years to do something that should have been done four years ago,” Wasowicz said.
"As a result of the meetings we had last month, the state agreed to grant the Village of Justice $1.6 million to do the flood project originally promised to the residents of Justice.”
Wasowicz said the only issue is how the funds should be disbursed. The funds are available in a state bill that would cover only 70 percent of the money needed. The remaining 30 percent are earmarked from anticipated but uncollected revenues from video gaming machines.
“But we don’t want to wait for the video gaming revenues to come in before we can start. The legislators I spoke with agreed that the $1.6 million promised to the Village of Justice will be allocated from the 70 percent that is now in the state budget and once that money is provided we can begin the project immediately,” Wasowicz said.
“I wanted to make sure the $1.6 million that has been promised is included in the 70 percent, not from the uncollected funds. We want that money now. By law it is our money but it hasn't come to the bank. It was appropriated but the money is not there. The risk is if we don't act now, we will lose the funds again and we do not want to lose the funding.”
Wasowicz said that while meeting to discuss the flood issues, he also met with officials of the Illinois EPA who offered to also help with any contamination issues that might exist in the village.
“I told them we needed help to clean up the area of 86th Avenue and Archer Avenue, the Brownfield Project. We had the Anthony Oil property there and it has been closed and abandoned. But the tanks are still underground,” Wasowicz said.
“The Illinois EPA said they would help us clean that up and they have already now initiated a contract with the Building Department to begin the cleanup. This is not a project that we could do on our own. The costs are prohibitive. We must have the state do it. It would be way beyond our ability to clean it up without federal or state money. Once it is cleaned up we can reconfigure 86th Avenue and give the portion of the land to the School District as we had promised."
Wasowicz said “The Village of Justice needs to maintain and strengthen ties with our local legislative leaders to insure that our community remains on their radar screens and that we not be forgotten. We have to be pro-active and that’s what this administration plans to do.”