Alderman Smith: “What should we use this building for now?”

Ald. Smith has posted an open question to the community and her constituents to elicit feedback on  how the Somerset building should be utilized once it is closed:

“Should Somerset Place continue in its current capacity as an Institution for Mental Diseases (IMD)?  If not, what would be an appropriate use of the site?”

Doesn’t this seem premature? First, it is not public property but privately owned.  It isn’t hers to decide what to do with, though she apparently believes otherwise.  Second, her concerns about the impact these residents have on the community is not resolved. There is still the very unclear question of where the state is going to put these residents, many of whom will, in fact, remain in her ward, possibly with less structure and supervision.  By skipping over the difficult and important question of where these residents will be relocated and jumping straight to ‘hey, what can we do with that lovely old building,’ Ald. Smith, I believe, reveals clearly her motives.

I sent a letter to Ald. Smith regarding the question of the disposition of the 300+ residents at Somerset and she has not yet responded.  In addition, I sent a copy of the letter to Uptown Update, who has neither posted it nor replied, though Ald. Smith’s post about what to do with the building is front page news.  Today I submitted a comment to Action Uptown, Ald. Smith’s blog, to let her constituency know of this blog.  To her credit, the comment was posted. Thank-you.



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3 responses to “Alderman Smith: “What should we use this building for now?”

  1. Marc Vieux

    In this case the Federal and State Authorities have taken the correct action. For the safety of the current patients, residents, and the neighborhood Somerset should be closed.

    The land is private property and I agree completely that its disposition is entirely up to you. There are limitless opportunities outside of running a medicaid funded nursing home/IMD and I encourage you to explore them completely. The only thing you have lost is access to tax payer funds, not a market opportunity or control of the property.

  2. Clarification: the above comment uses ‘you’ repeatedly. I do not own the building. This blog is not associated with the owners of the building who, to date, have not said a single word to me about it nor contributed. I am not representing Somerset. That is not the purpose of this blog. The purpose is to look critically at the entire situation of the treatment of the mentally ill in Illinois, of which Somerset is actually only one small piece, if illustrative of the problems. Thank you for your comment.

  3. Michael Yonkman

    Shut it down. We already have way more than our fair share of homes for the mentally ill in the neighborhood. We don’t need one that’s poorly run. Redevelop the property as MARKET RATE housing, either condo or rental and RESTORE THE HISTORIC FACADE.

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