Opponents of a Love’s Travel Stop say they are building alliances to stop the project, but it’s not clear they will have enough support by Oct. 2.
That’s the date when the Joliet City Council is slated to vote on a project that Mayor Bob O’Dekirk describes as a spark to economic development on the East Side.
O’Dekirk at a meeting of the City Council Economic Development Committee this week said the Love’s project has the potential to spur the kind of interchange development at the Briggs Street interchange that the city has seen at the Houbolt Road and Larkin Avenue exits.
The committee approved a sales tax rebate for the Love’s project off Interstate 80 with only two opponents attending to speak against it.
It was a stark contrast to the public hearing before the Plan Commission on Aug. 28 when more than 30 people spoke against the Love’s plan.
Even then, the commission recommended approval.
Margie Cepon, a Joliet resident whose parents live near the Love’s site, said opponents have joined forces with people who successfully organized opposition to the NorthPoint annexation in Elwood. They still are trying to gather support from community groups in Joliet.
“This isn’t just affecting one area and one city,” Cepon said. “Will County is going to be surrounded by trucks.”
Cepon said organizers hope to develop a countywide coalition.
But that appears to be a tough task to accomplish by Oct. 2.
Stephanie Irvine, an organizer in the anti-NorthPoint movement, said she and others in her group have been consulting with the residents in the Love’s neighborhood. They went to the East Joliet Township Fire Protection District station to meet with Chief Robert Scholtes, who says the trucks coming to Love’s would worsen the traffic situation that firetrucks and ambulances face now.
“We looked at the location where the truck stop would go, and it doesn’t make sense,” Irvine said.
Still, she doesn’t know how much help NorthPoint organizers will be able to provide by Oct. 2.
Meanwhile, city officials see the site as a prime location for I-80 development, especially a truck stop.
“It’s an easy-on, easy-off from the interstate,” Economic Development Director Steve Jones said at the committee meeting, adding that the next easy exit for an I-80 truck stop is in Minooka. “They’re passing us. They need fuel, and they need food.”