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Jacksonville Developmental Center to Close

Illinois Governor Pat Quinn confirmed he plans to close the  Jacksonville  Developmental Center and Tinley Park Mental Health  Center. 

Quinn's  office is calling the closures a "rebalancing."

The  Governor plans to move institutionalized patients with developmental  disabilities and mental illness to community-based settings.

In  a statement, Quinn said it will improve their quality of life.

The closures will also help the state's bottom line. The  administration estimates the state will save nearly $12 million a  year by  closing the Jacksonville facility, and another $8 million annually when Tinley Park is shuttered.

Much  of those savings will come through laying off state employees.

Representative Jim Watson (R-Jacksonville) said that  will  mean turmoil for his community as well as for some of the legal  guardians who have long entrusted their loved ones to be cared for  in  Jacksonville.

"If  you were the parent, if it was one of your loved ones there, what  would  you know right now about their future, where they're going?” Watson asked.  “What  if you were a 75 year old sick parent and you know where  your child is  now.  And you hear this, nobody has called you  and talked to you about  it.  I don't think those people feel  very secure at all."

Watson hoped the General Assembly will be able to stop the governor's  plan. Quinn had moved to close seven state facilities last year but lawmakers reached an agreement to prevent that from happening.

Tinley  Park is slated to close in July, with Jacksonville to follow in  October.

Jacksonville Mayor Andy Ezard said he has heard threats to close  state government facilities  before. But he knew the latest announcement about Jacksonville Developmental Center was for keeps.

“This  is the first time the governor's office has called me and said,  'It's going to happen.' So it hit home pretty hard today," Ezard said.

Ezard said he is "steaming mad" about the process. He said his community  jumped through hoops at last year's hearings, but it seems like  the  governor already made up his mind.

Ezard said the community  will  try to help families cope with the transition. He said the city  will also  fight to protect its other state institutions: the Illinois  School for the Deaf and the Illinois School for the  Visually Impaired.

Quinn's  office said it plans to close up to three  more state institutions for the developmentally disabled within the next couple years.

Thanks to Illinois Public Radio


Rich is TSPR's News Director.