Hobart tells GEO to secure building on former St. Sava site
By Karen Caffarini Post-Tribune correspondent March 5, 2014 11:14PM
Updated: March 6, 2014 7:19PM
HOBART — City officials said Wednesday they sent letters to the GEO Group and its local attorney informing the Florida-based builder of prisons and immigrant detention centers it must either secure or demolish the building on the former St. Sava Serbian Orthodox Church site that it now owns.
Mayor Brian Snedecor reported the city’s action upon request from Tom DuBois, a Hobart resident and active member of Concerned Citizens of Hobart, which opposes an immigrant center on the former church property.
DuBois said concern about the safety of the property near 49th and Liverpool was raised at one of the group’s meetings that was attended by the mayor. The group had asked the mayor if the building inspector could go out to the property and check on the building.
“There was concern that young people could go through the building and there was some concern that the city isn’t treating GEO in the same way it is treating other people,” DuBois said after Wednesday’s City Council meeting.
The mayor said Building Official Mike Hannigan visited the site and sent a letter to the company’s Florida office on Feb. 24 informing it that the building was standing open and not secured.
“He issued an order to comply or demolish the building,” Snedecor said.
Hannigan said he hand-delivered another letter to the company’s local attorney, John Bushemi, on Wednesday. Hannigan said he hadn’t received a response from either the company or Bushemi as of Wednesday night.
Another resident, Pat Wilmore, urged the council to keep Hobart wholesome.
A member of the Friends of Robinson Lake, Wilmore used the analogy of the group’s annual Fishing Day for kids, in which kids use bait and a hook to catch a fish, to GEO.
“GEO is promising things — revenues, permanent jobs. I’m afraid the city of Hobart is going to grab the bait and GEO will pull you in then do whatever they want. They are not to be trusted,” Wilmore said.
She also said she hasn’t heard much more about the Hobart Marsh Plan.
“I’d like to know more about that,” she said.