37°

Crete Village Board rejects detention facility

June 11, 2012 10:30 pm  • 

CRETE | The Crete Village Board unanimously voted to end its due diligence and terminate discussions with Corrections Corporation of America to build an immigrant detention facility near Balmoral Park.

Trustee Mark Wiater told board members that a meeting was held Monday between members of the due diligence committee and CCA to discuss project financials.

“Based on the results of the meeting with CCA today, I make a motion to terminate our due diligence and end discussions about building a detention facility in Crete,” Wiater said.

The motion was seconded by Trustee Robert Gaines. The vote to terminate was unanimous.

Wiater then made a second motion to have Village President Michael Einhorn write a formal letter to both CCA and ICE to inform them that the village had withdrawn from consideration. That vote also was unanimous.

Gaines then addressed the audience.

“Many people said that this was a done deal and that the board had sold out,” Gaines said. “All along, we said we needed to conduct due diligence and make an informed decision. I hope tonight you see that this was not a done deal by any means.”

After the meeting ended, Einhorn discussed the decision.

“Before we met today with CCA, members of the board had ideas about the financial numbers,” Einhorn said. “There was a certain amount of risk on the part of the village, so the rewards had to be solid enough to outweigh the risks. It became obvious today that our expectations were very different from what CCA offered.”

Einhorn also said that it would not be in the best interest of the village to continue discussions.

“When the differences are significant enough, it makes no sense to keep discussions ongoing,” he said. “It was time to call it off.”

Einhorn said he would make phone calls Tuesday to CCA and ICE, and then follow that up with written confirmation.

CCA released a statement late Monday night in response to Crete's decision.

"This outcome is of course disappointing to the taxpayers, job seekers and local businesses that stood to benefit from this economic boost," said Steven Owen, senior director of public affairs for CCA. "Despite a lengthy due diligence process and a number of previous meetings, including one earlier today (Monday) with village officials, terms simply could not be reached that would have been mutually agreeable to all parties. We wish the village of Crete the best and appreciate their initial interest in pursuing a partnership with CCA and ICE. Moving forward, we will continue to work closely with ICE in meeting their needs in the region. "

Members of the Concerned Citizens of Crete, the interfaith group that opposed the facility, applauded the decision. Concetta Smart, a Crete resident and leader of the group, thanked each board member and Einhorn for their decision.

“Thank you for stopping this project,” she said. “We all appreciate that this facility will not be built.”

The vote ended 20 months of acrimonious debates between the village administration and the opposition group. All along, board members said they were undecided and that they would vote in the best interest of the village.

“And that’s what we did,” Gaines said.