Joliet’s Stone City VFW Post 2199 is among a quickly growing number of veterans’ groups in strong opposition of NorthPoint Development. Stone City personally presented NorthPoint a letter of opposition last month.
NorthPoint’s trucking warehouse facility is adjacent to Route 53 and Hoff Road, which is the entrance to Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery, as well as the boundary of the Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie where the bison roam.
NorthPoint’s phase one is about 3,000 acres, spanning roughly 5 miles by 3.5 miles, adding tens of thousands of semi trucks daily onto already weak roads.
“We see a problem every day with truck traffic,” said Commander Kevin Pomykala. “Semi trucks using GPS are getting lost, driving into Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery and driving on top of veterans’ graves.”
Pomykala is calling on veterans to join him at the Joliet City Council meeting Tuesday March 3 at 6:30 pm to stand in unison to protect the cemetery.
“Our concern is the negative effect on the dignity and honor of our departed comrades and the effect to their families and friends,” said Tim Terrell, commander of Harry E. Anderson Post 9545 New Lenox, and the VFW District 18 junior vice commander.
WWII Veteran Felix Pasteris, a life long Joliet resident, believes it is his duty to protect the land the graves where his wife, Helen Pasteris, is buried. Helen was also a WWII veteran, a nurse cadet trainee. She died last year after 70 years of marriage to Felix. For five years during the entire war, Felix was a crew chief for a P-38, “the plane that changed the course of history.” He always kept it flying and never lost a pilot, he said.
“I know what the enemy looks like,” Felix Pasteris said of NorthPoint. “This is a fight worth taking up.
In a joint statement, Wilmington VFW Post 5422 Commander Terry Cerutti and Midewin Tallgrass Prairie Alliance President Gerald Heinrich opposed NorthPoint because the project abuts the prairie on Hoff Road, which is also the entrance to the cemetery.
“It is our opinion that no new intermodal or warehouse complexes be developed south of I-80 and within a 15-mile radius of Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery and US Forest Service Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie …,” the statement said.
The American Legion Post 935 passed a resolution opposing NorthPoint, citing “disruption of funeral processions for Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery,” among other concerns.
“When it comes to protecting our cemetery, we do not truck back-room deals or verbal promises,” Pomykala said, referring to NorthPoint’s application not having traffic or impact studies, or a finalized development agreement.
Tuesday’s Joliet City Council meeting will be held at 150 W. Jefferson Street. Veterans may sign up to speak, or simply stand in unison when Stone City Post reads its letter of opposition.
Last Friday, Pomykala and Pasteris told Senator Tammy Duckworth they strongly opposed NorthPoint while she was at the post for an unrelated event. Pomykala presented Duckworth with a stack of about 100 letters signed by area veterans strongly opposing NorthPoint.
By Erin Gallagher