Above is the December 20th 2016 City Council Meeting which I spoke at. Below is my statement along with the article I gave the Council Members.
I would like to see Joliet on the road to change. Joliet does need a PR facelift, we must change our image. I'm not the first person to point this out. Last year, the city paid $75,000 for Camiro’s Downtown Study, which centered its vision on a downtown Mecca for young people. And I quote this strategy “aligns with the downtown’s #1 strength; its entertainment and cultural component.”
The question was raised, what happens if the theater goes dark? Considering we have heard in the last week alone, that the theater brought in over 4,000 people. The question we should be asking is what happens to Joliet, if the downtown goes dark? What happens to those businesses that were packed over the weekend? The Rialto must be allowed to promote the downtown area, just as the downtown businesses must crossmarket to promote tourism. The Joliet taxpayer, who has been nickeled and dimed in the last decade, isn't going to be the one to save the city from financial ruin. But tourist can! Bringing in outside money to our city is a must and this council paid for the study and plan telling us how to do it, but has continued down the road to ruin instead.
Joliet’s history of owning businesses has been less than stellar, and includes everything from Bicentennial Park, the Historical Museum, Rich & Creamy, Crabigales, the Slammers Stadium, the Splash Station, Union Station, and last but not least, Evergreen (of which we paid 15 million dollars plus litigation fees and we still don't have possession). How many of these entities have made money for the city? Not to mention the resolution before you proposes to sell off the office spaces, which is the one aspect that is currently profitable.
Our State Rep, Larry Walsh Jr. was here yesterday advising this very Council to consider that Springfield may not be in a position to transfer the property. And even if they are, they may not do so in any timely manner.
On Oct 16th, 1979, the city adopted a 3% Hotel-Motel tax which was to pay for the $1.1 Million dollar bond issued to the Rialto Theater. You have each been given a copy. Although this money is not earmarked for only the Rialto the council manager at the time, Robert Oldland stated, “If the tax revenues are not used for the Rialto, they can still be used for other city improvements”. This allocation to the Rialto is enough to subsidize the theater so that VenueWorks can come in and turn this theater around. Which in turn will allow us to continue down the road to change, as well as follow and expand on the Camiro’s Downtown Study.
Therefore, I am asking that you reject the resolution to purchase the Rialto and not only second Pat Mudron’s motion, but vote in favor for it. I would even go as far as to say, if you are adding conditions, ask VenueWorks to do more than 40 shows. Negotiate what is necessary to be successful and realistic.