Suburbanites may participate at low rates in local elections but they certainly can be energized by controversial local zoning proposals. More on the ongoing Haymarket case in Itasca, Illinois:
Itasca plan commissioners admitted they underestimated public interest in a proposed addiction treatment center when a crowd representing 16% of the town’s population packed their meeting Wednesday night…
Demonstrators marched earlier Wednesday evening through downtown Itasca to pressure a Chicago nonprofit group to abandon plans to convert a hotel into a 200-bed drug and alcohol treatment center…
Prominent politicians, advocates and other nonprofit groups have thrown their support behind Haymarket, maintaining that the center would address a shortage of easily accessible residential programs for recovering addicts in DuPage County. Proponents also say much of the outcry stems from the stigma around opioid addiction…
Opponents have focused their main objections on the size and location of a facility they say would put too much of a burden on the village’s police and ambulance services.
Quite the excitement for a suburb with less than 10,000 people. Several parts of this latest news report stood out to me:
1. A public march through the community from those opposed to the center.
2. Public demonstrations of support from those in favor of the facility. While there may be a good amount of NIMBY activity, there are also people willing to stand up for the facility.
3. That this all is based on a medical center. This is not a landfill or huge condominium building in a town of single-family homes. Of course, it is not just any medical center: it is one involving drug treatment. (And many suburbs do not like getting involved with anything to do with drugs.)
4. This is not how such local political activity works but it would be interesting to hear where Itasca residents think the facility should be located or whether they could help broker a deal for another community rather than just reject the local proposal. More broadly, how might communities and residents work together to locate facilities that may be undesirable but are needed?