WHITING | Whiting residents packed City Hall on Wednesday where Mayor Joe Stahura provided a summary of the city’s Stadium District plan.
The “potential” future acquisitions that may be needed to implement the plan were discussed at a Redevelopment Commission meeting. An information sheet updating residents on the plan was available at the hearing.
The project area would involve all properties east of the Schrage Avenue alley and north of 121st Street.
Hundreds of properties have been on the acquisition list since the plan’s original adoption in 1997 and the plan’s revision has added additional properties.
Stahura said being on the acquisition list allows the city some flexibility and to look at a person’s personal situation.
Stahura said being on the acquisition list allows them to use eminent domain proceedings to acquire properties when necessary.
“I have never had to use the eminent domain process since I’ve been mayor for 10 years,” Stahura said. “But it does allow us the opportunity if there is a roadblock in possibly finalizing development.”
Stahura said the plan doesn’t mean there is going to be development “tomorrow.”
“It just means the area has been identified as an area that’s very possible and realistic for future development,” he said. “There’s absolutely no guarantee that any property on the acquisition list will ever be acquired or not.”
The city will offer relocation assistance for those willing to sell. The city is also looking at the option of senior citizen apartments, which would be a private development.
“Seniors have told me time and time again they would like an apartment complex so they can live in the apartment when they no longer wish or can maintain their own properties.
Many residents expressed concerns regarding the senior population in the area of the plan, particularly Center Street.
One option is a life estate deed, where the city would buy the property now, negotiate a sale to allow the person who lives at that property to stay there until they no longer can.
“I never planned or intended or even remotely considered kicking senior citizens out of their homes against their will,” Stahura said. “I’ve been mayor ten years and there is absolutely no history of that happening and I never, never would ever see that happening in the future.”
As for owners of negligent properties and absentee landlords, Stahura said he would use “all the tools in my tool bag” to acquire their property the lowest possible cost in the quickest timeline.
“I just can’t have people who are not taking care of their properties impede the growth of the community,” he said.
The full plan can be viewed at: