UPDATE (3/21/16) – Rockford city council voted in favor of reducing the building permit fees for Mercy Rockford, paving the way for construction of the new hospital. Aldermen voted in favor of the reduction 12-1. The city now agrees to drop the fees from $1.8 million to $900,000. Ald. Venita Hervey was the only one to vote “no.”
Rockford City Council gave the okay Monday night, to reduce MercyRockford’s permit fees by half with a 12-1 vote. It didn’t come without its opposition from one alderman who has been very vocal about her stance.
“I will continue to represent the people of the 5th Ward who are often unseen, unheard, and feel voiceless and disenfranchised,” Ald. Venita Hervey said Monday, standing her ground on the stance she’s taken, while addressing her decision to motion for a lay over of the vote two weeks ago.
“I was not elected to represent my fellow aldermen,” Hervey went on to add. “I was elected to represent first the residents of the Fifth Ward of the city of Rockford; second, the residents of the city of Rockford as a whole.”
Aldermen overwhelmingly approved reducing the permit fees to $900,000, with Ald. Hervey being the only one to vote against it.
“I believe that the diminution of services at Rockford Memorial Hospital, the essential health care services, will be detrimental to the citizens who live there,” Hervey said.
Still, many other aldermen say this historic project has way too much upside to pass on — even if they’re giving mercy Rockford a $900,000 break on fees.
“Developers are willing to come here and not necessarily ask us for everything, they just want a place to be involved,” 10th Ward Alderman Frank Beach said in favor of the project. “I think that’s very important and ought to be accruing to the community and to the people around this horseshoe here.”
“It’s a big deal to all of us to have great jobs and to bring up the, to move the scale of the economic impact of jobs and the wages of jobs in Rockford,” 4th ward Alderman Kevin Frost added.
MercyRockford hopes to break ground within the next month and believe the project will bring with it 1,500 jobs.
3/10/16 – A brief conference was held at Rockford Memorial Hospital on Thursday, to allow Mayor Larry Morrissey and several aldermen discuss their strong support for the MercyRockford “One Hospital, Two Campus Plan.”
“[The plan consists of] almost a billion dollars of investment. And that’s just the beginning, because there’s other businesses will follow behind it,” Alderman Frank Beach says of the project, expressing his support for the project along with two other alderman, and Rockford Mayor Larry Morrissey.
On Monday, City Council planned to vote on the MercyRockford annexation and development agreement.
Eleven alderman and Mayor Morrissey were in full support of it, but two aldermen — Venita Hervey and Linda McNeely — voted to postpone the vote.
“When a matter is up for the first time, as it was on Monday — the passage of the annexation agreement — all it takes is two aldermen, one to move, another one to second, the matter gets laid over,” says Morrissey of how two aldermen were able to successfully postpone the vote.
The eleven aldermen in support of the new hospital, and Mayor Morrissey, signed a letter to be sent to the president of MercyRockford, outlining a request for additional time for the city, to provide all of the necessary approvals to begin construction on the new Riverside Boulevard campus.
“It shows eleven council members plus myself — so the twelve of us — in support of this project, which can assure Mercy and any potential bondholder investors that they’re talking to that this community stands strongly in support of the project,” Morrissey says.
“This is what we need to boost Rockford, to bring it back to its greatness. And we’re getting there step by step,” Alderman Jeanne Oddo says of the project.
The aldermen who were present on Thursday, in addition to Mayor Morrissey, believe the next council meeting will be one that votes to allow the project to get underway.