As a small business owner in the rural community of Pembroke Township/Hopkins Park, I would like to address inequalities of the proposed $42 million municipalities throughout Kankakee County are expected to receive as part of the American Rescue Plan (also referred to as the COVID-19 stimulus package).
The Village of Hopkins Park and Pembroke Township, which have been depicted as the most impoverished communities in the county, is slated to receive a whopping $73,882 of the $42 million. It is my hope the estimated 22 businesses and more than 400 homeowners mentioned in the Nicor Gas news release actually will receive the funds to finally secure the sustainable infrastructure, such as decent roads, street lights, sidewalks, natural gas, safe drinking water, adequate school system, housing and an effective police and fire departments, that has been promised to residents by elected officials during the years.
There have been articles written about an economic recovery for Hopkins Park/Pembroke Township.
Although monies have been allotted and checks cashed, residents have not seen the promises come to fruition. For example, there have been grants to purchase natural gas line pipes, but the pipes never were received. There were grants to install lights and sidewalks after a young man was struck and killed, yet there are still no street lights.
Now, the villagers want to sue the township in the amount of $36,000. The village board arbitrarily raised the water rate fees on businesses, churches and small animal farms to pay for new water meters.
However, some residents and businesses don’t even have water meters installed. Now there is another impending increase on the water rate.
According to one candidate running for township supervisor, with his assistance, the Village of Hopkins Park received a grant for $750,000 for road repairs and sewer; $400,000 to rehab existing homes; $150,000 to rehab a water tower; $300,000 for the village library; and another to repair the village hall roof (which is now in such disrepair it no longer is in use), as well as other grants that are not mentioned.
Pembroke Township also has received $296,000 for housing rehab. But there is no documentation of this rehab being completed. Pembroke also received a grant for a homeless shelter that would have relieved nonprofits, as well as family and friends, of the extra responsibility to provide shelter, but there has not been evidence of a shelter being established.
As a small business owner, I believe having infrastructure as mentioned above is a vital part of economic recovery for any community.
I certainly agree with Kankakee County Board member Patricia Polk’s Voice of the People article in the Daily Journal and her courage to speak out about the issues affecting our community.
It is my opinion if these allegations of misappropriation of government money had taken place in any other affluent community there would have been an investigation, indictment and criminal charges brought forth.