Rialto officials form ad hoc marquee committee

The next chapter in the ongoing saga of the Rialto Marquee was announced Wednesday during the Rialto’s governing board meeting Wednesday.

An ad hoc committee is being established to select the design of the new marquee that will then be submitted for final approval to the Will County Metropolitan Exposition and Auditorium Authority.

The committee will be called the Marquee Advisory Committee, and it will be led by Dr. Chris Clott, University of St. Francis Dean of the College of Business and Health Administration, and Dr. Eveann Lovero, Lewis University Professor of Business Administration. Lovero is also the chairman of the Department of Business Administration.

Kelly Rohder, Joliet Junior College Director of Communications and External Relations, will release information from the committee.

The ad hoc committee will be made up of two members from each of the following: Rialto board members Daniel Vera and Vicki Murphy; Rialto Square Theatre Foundation board members Steve Randich and Jeffrey Hettrick; Rialto Volunteers representatives Cathy Cecchi and Mike Acosta; Joliet City Council members to be appointed by Mayor Tom Giarrante; and “The Rialto Belongs to the People” representatives Mary Beth Gannon and Michael Morgan.

Rialto board chairman James Smith said the committee represented the community at large.

“We are looking for a consensus,” he said. “I want to see a new marquee.”

Joliet City Councilwoman Jan Quillman asked if this was a compromise to solve the ongoing marquee problems.

“We are trying to be objective,” Smith said.

Rialto General Manager Randy Green said there wasn’t a final date for a solution, but the new committee was probably the quickest way to find one while giving the community a voice in the process.

One of the public attending the board meeting asked if construction on the marquee has been halted.

“Yes,” Green said, sounding terse.

He was also asked if Ed Czerkies, who was the first donor for a new marquee, had gotten his money back. “We are working on it,” Green said.

Czerkies asked for the return of his $350,000 donation after a firestorm of public criticism over what was being called a ”Las Vegas-style” marquee with a memorial tribute to his parents.

Another donor, Jay Bergman, Joliet businessman, offered to give the Rialto with a $350,000 check. But the board said they could not accept a proposal without “a transparency process,” meaning the board wanted to review the offer.

The board did not turn down Bergman’s offer, but Bergman felt his offer was being rejected because he asked for a quick decision with a couple of stipulations, Smith said, adding that he wasn’t sure that it was a dead end.

There have been no change-orders and modifications to the sign, Green said. The new marquee is 75 percent complete and the theater owes Landmark Signs $197,000.

When questioned on who would be responsible if the marquee is scrapped, Green said, “We will have to address the issue if it comes up.”

Ruth Smith, asked the question many wanted to know the answer to:

“Are we stuck now?”

Smith answered this is now the purpose of the ad hoc committee to answer these questions.

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