Politics

Meeting recap: City Council approves purchase of vacant Ascension-St. Susanna Catholic Church facility

While it wasn't specified what "government purposes" the facility is to be used under the resolution, City Council approved a similar acquisition of a vacant downtown bank last year. The Harvey Police Department now uses the former First Merchants Bank, although it's not accessible to the public.

City Council officials listen as Metra communications liaison Noe Gallado presents to the council. HWH / Amethyst J. Davis
City Council officials listen as Metra communications liaison Noe Gallado presents to the council. HWH / Amethyst J. Davis

Meeting date

January 23, 2023

Roll Call

Mayor Chris Clark: Present

Alderwoman Shirley Drewinski (1st): Present

Alderman Marshun Tolbert (2nd): Absent

Alderwoman Telanee Smith (3rd): Present

Alderman Tracy Key (4th): Present

Alderman Dominique Randle-El (5th): Absent

Alderman Tyrone Rogers (6th): Present

The big picture

The city moved to purchase the vacant and beloved Ascension-St. Susanna Catholic Church facility as mayoral candidate Alderman Marshun Tolbert (2nd) missed his second City Council meeting of the year.

Notable presentations

Downtown Harvey Transportation Center feedback

Noe Gallardo, a Legislative Affairs Administrator at Metra, echoed overwhelmingly positive comments from Harvey residents in regard to a major transit renovation coming to downtown Harvey.

For context: Metra and Pace held an open house at Harvey Public Library District in early January to get public feedback on the designs for the Harvey Pace Bus Transportation Center renovation. The project holds a $70 million total price tag. A federal grant provides $20 million in funding.

Major decisions

Ascension-St. Susanna Purchase

City Council unanimously approved a purchase of St. Susanna Catholic Parish, located on 152nd and Myrtle Avenue in the city’s 2nd Ward. The resolution notes the purchase is for “government purposes,” although no specifics were given as to what that entails.

For context: The city made a similar purchase under “government purposes” last August when it acquired First Merchants Bank, located on 154th Street. Harvey Police Department now makes use of that facility, but it is not publicly accessible.

One of Harvey’s earliest Catholic churches, the Ascension parish opened in the early 1890s, later merging with St. Susanna parish. The church held its last mass in July 2021. The move came as Ascension-St. Susanna merged with several other Catholic bodies. Parishioners have since relocated to the renamed Lord of Mercy on 157th Street and Union Avenue.

The church is most commonly associated with Ascension-St. Susanna School, a former grade school located directly behind it.

Bahay Kubo single family home renovations

A developer gets the greenlight to rehabilitate a single family home, located on 152nd Street and Paulina Avenue. Pending the final outcome, Bahay Kubo will rehabilitate a second home. Initially, another home was selected, but the developer can’t rehabilitate them; they're already slated for redevelopment.

According to city administrator Timothy Williams, the initial property, located at 147th Street and Main Street, is already slated for rehabilitation as part of the Home Rehabilitation Program.

For context: Officially announced in summer 2021, the program seeks to take abandoned homes and get them back on the tax rolls by helping Harvey residents and/or Thornton alumni become homeowners.

City officials haven’t publicly offered many details about the program’s status since its launch.

Public comment

N/A

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