Tempers flared in Rock Island Thursday night as the Board of Improvements unanimously approved recommending plans to build a road connecting Big Island with 90 acres of land near Jumer’s Casino, and to charge residents for part of the construction.
Rock Island leaders have said building a road off Illinois 92 is necessary to develop a new, $55 million retail park known as Jumer’s Crossing.
“If you do this project, you’re talking jobs, you’re talking about sales tax, you’re talking about property tax, you’re talking about helping the entire city, and with that, you also help this area,” said Mayor Dennis Pauley.
Thursday, nearly 30 residents spoke in opposition to the project and a plan to charge them up to $80 for it. They are primarily concerned with increased traffic and modifications to the levee, which they believe could lead to flooding.
“To have a road coming through… it’s our neighborhood. Who wants a main road coming through a neighborhood?” asked Kearisten Rany, who lives on Big Island.
“I don’t wanna get flooded out. I wanna raise what’s left of my family there, when my grandkids come out,” said another Big Island resident Charlie Van De Sampel.
To alter the levee, Rock Island will also need approval from the Village of Milan and the Big Island Conservancy District — both of whom oppose the plan.
Rock Island said it is considering suing those groups to take that power away, and that residents have nothing to worry about.
“The Army Corps of Engineers would have to sign off on anything we do, and they would not sign off on anything that would damage the area in any way, shape, or form,” said Pauley.
Many residents, though, said they don’t trust the City or the Corps to make the right decision.
“I don’t trust this Board of Improvements, and I don’t trust the City of Rock Island like I used to,” said Van De Sampel.
The resolution passed by the Board will go to the City Council next week.