Calumet City Mayor Gives first State of the City Address (Calumet City, IL) — On Saturday, June 25, 2022, Calumet City Mayor Thaddeus M. Jones gave his first State of the City address as mayor. The event took place at Thornton Fractional North’s Purple Gym, located at 755 Pulaski Road in Calumet City.
At the event, plans for the future of Calumet City were addressed, with village officials in attendance to give reports and answer questions.
The event stated with an introduction from Val Williams, Department Head of Community & Economic Development Department.
To date, the city was awarded 48 out of the 99 grants applied for at the national, state and local level, with 32 still pending. Calumet City has secured over $24 million, and the city council will vote on a $40 million bond to get started on city redevelopment.
“There is no way that any community can receive the amount of money that we do without partnership and the expertise that the administration provides,” said Williams.
According to Mayor Jones, River Oaks Mall did not pay taxes for six years, landing the establishment $8 million in debt. Similarly, River Oaks West was $20 million in debt after not paying taxes in nearly 13 years. The Calumet City council voted to go after the debts owed and to secure the properties.
Two videos were played which showcased plans for River Oaks. As shown in one of the videos, River Oaks Mall is a major project, with hopes to reimagine one of the major income-generating businesses of the city. The plan is to include a Gibson’s steakhouse, Cooper’s Hawk restaurant, a hotel, and upgrading the current area.
River Oaks Roaring Rivers is a planned Water Park and Resort.
With speculation from residents in attendance about the feasibility of the project happening, Mayor Jones reinforced that he does not make promises he does not intend to keep.
“We are at a crossroad. We have the option to do nothing and become like so many other communities that have failed. We also have the option to do something starting with this forty-million-dollar bond to build our city up, to build our roads up, build our community up, and have a plan for our future and our kids,” said Jones.
Long-term Capital Improvements
Ken Chastain, Senior Program Manager of the Farnsworth Group, gave updates about from the office of the City Engineer.
The priorities of the office were placed into seven categories: Sewer System Rehabilitation; Pavement Management Planning; Water System Improvements; Enhance Storm Water Resiliency; Rebuilding Transportation Assets; Initiate the new River Oaks Center plan; and Investment in new housing.
In the immediate future, upcoming projects for this year include lead service line replacements, sidewalk and road improvements and designing Blues Water Run Kayak Park.
Fire and Police Updates
Earlier in the presentation, it was mentioned that the fire and police departments were once understaffed. Now, the city now has 17 new police officers and 10 firefighters. Since May, nine firefighters/paramedics were hired, and the city was approved for four additional staff.
For the fire department, one of the major announcements was the three-story training tower located at the corner of state line and state street. The department ran their first training academy there. In a collaborative community effort, the facility is also used by Hammond, Indiana Fire Department, which borders Calumet City.
For the police department, it was stated that crime was down, but traffic violations were up. This year, there were over 5000 citations issued, a 118 percent increase from last year.
To combat this issue, more staff has been hired, with a focus on street patrol.
Calumet City Police Chief Kevin Kolosh commended both the fire and police department for their work in protecting the city.
“The chief and fire commission have been very busy. And I thank you all for what you have done. They have spent countless hours to get us to the point where we are at right now, and I thank you for your efforts,” said Kolosh.
Overall, most residents and staff in attendance felt optimistic about the plan for Calumet City.
“I’m standing here today as your mayor, with our elected officials to proclaim it’s a new day in Calumet City. It’s a new day to bring good government back to our city,” said Jones.
Mayor Jones Gives first State of the City Address