DWIGHT — The village of Dwight grew by 88 acres this week, but it will be a long time before officials vote on what, if anything, will be built on the newly acquired property.
The Village Board annexed the property at the request of Immigration Centers of America, which approached city leaders about building a $20 million detention center south of Illinois 17 and east of Interstate 55.
ICA, based in Virginia, is one of several companies awaiting the Department of Homeland Security’s issuance of a request for proposal for the Illinois/Chicago area, said Frank Cortina, an attorney from Morris who represented the company in the discussions for the annexation. It was the first step to building the facility.
Once that happens, any company can respond with a proposed site and facility.
“The DHS will then review and ultimately issue the contract to the successful proposals,” Cortina said.
An exact timetable is hard to estimate, Cortina added.
“It is unknown whether the RFP for Illinois would be forthcoming prior to any of the other RFPs throughout the country,” he said. “When an actual RFP is issued, the actual process of seeking an award of a facility for the property in Dwight would begin and presumably would take anywhere from one to two years for the actual award of the contract by DHS.”
Despite the annexation of property and association with ICA, there is no guarantee the center would be built in Dwight.
“This is by no means a done deal for Dwight or Immigration Centers of America,” said Dwight Village Administrator Kevin McNamara. “RFPs must be issued and then (ICA) must be the successful bidder, for lack of a better term. The village’s steps ... merely just guarantees that ICA has a location to submit.”
About 300 people attended Monday night’s meeting which included nearly two hours of public comment, mostly campaigning against the facility. Sonny Garcia of Bloomington has helped form a group called No ICE Dwight, and said that despite the approval of the annexation, the fight to persuade Dwight officials to not go ahead with the project will continue. Garcia, and others, say the facility is more like a prison and unfairly breaks families apart.
“We are definitely disappointed with the vote to annex,” he said. “We’re not done. This is actually just the beginning and we are in it for the long haul. We have a lot of people fired up and ready to do some work.”
The project could bring as many as 400 construction jobs and fully staffed, would offer about 360 positions. Future construction could also benefit through the construction of a sewer line for northwestern Dwight.