City of Belvidere sends clear message to Great Lakes Basin Railroad
By Lisa Rodgers
Publisher/Editor The Rhubarb
CITY OF BELVIDERE-This week Belvidere City Council Committee of the Whole met and unanimously approved a resolution to oppose the Great Lakes Basin Railroad. Final approval will take place on June 6 at the regular city council meeting.
"...Even though the tracks do not run though the city, the council knows that many of our families will be negatively impacted by this freight train plan. Hats off to our city officials. Half of the people who live in Boone County live in the city. We truly appreciate their support on this critical issue," said Boone County Board member Cathy Ward in a FaceBook post May 24.
While the City of Belvidere has taken a strong and defining position against the railroad, Boone County Board under the leadership of Chairman Bob Walberg has instead taken a milk toast approach to the very same issue.
On May 19 The Rhubarb spoke with Boone County Board member Cathy Ward and confirmed the Boone County Board had not passed a resolution at the regular county board meeting held May 18. Rather they approved only a letter objecting to the Great Lakes Basin Railroad from the Boone County Board and Community.
It should be noted Chairman Bob Walberg was challenged by Ang Daniels who attended the meeting that the resolution was not on the agendas despite Chairman Walberg saying it would be at the retreat. held on May 12. He denied he had made that statement and she took him to task that in fact he had and that she could prove it. Without the resolution being on the agenda, the board could not take action on a resolution.
Boone County has not followed the example of other governing bodies including other counties that have passed resolutions against Great Lakes Basin Railroad as Chairman Bob Walberg did not want a resolution. According to Ms. Ward, States Attorney Michelle Courier stated that a resolution is more powerful than what was approved by the county board.
According to Ms. Ward a resolution is still on the table and it is to be brought up at upcoming Administrative and Legislative Committee meeting to be held Monday, June 6 at 6:45pm. However, even if approved at committee, unless Boone County Board requests a special Boone County Board meeting, their regular board meeting falls on the STB deadline of June 15. There will not be time to submit the resolution if approved on June 15.
It is worth noting that the efforts of Boone County residents forced the hand of the Boone County Board and discussion occurred in regards to the Great Lakes Basin Railroad despite Chairman Walberg's attempt to railroad discussion on the matter stating there would be no discussion at all at a previous Boone County Board meeting held in April. The public has expressed their concern repeatedly about a conflict of interest with the Chairman as the proposed railroad goes directly through his property and if approved as is, is set to make a substantial amount of money. Many have stated Chairman Walberg should recuse himself from this process due to this conflict.
Below is a link to contact Boone County Board members to voice your concerns. The public is also encouraged to attend the June 6 meeting and speak during public comment. The committee meeting will be held at 1212 Logan Ave., Belvidere, IL 61008.