East side residents and businesses being relocated due to the 10th Street Rail Consolidation now have someone who can work with them and explain their rights.
Theodis Lewis, a former Sangamon County Judge, will serve as rail relocation Ombudsman. He’ll make sure families and businesses being relocated are being treated fairly, and will ensure they have the information they need. This is a huge step, according to Leroy Jordan with Faith Coalition for the Common Good.
“We are leap years ahead of where we were 20, 30 years ago,” he said. “This process now feels the way it should be, it feels like we’re going to be successful.”
Lewis will be paid $100 an hour from state coffers on an as needed basis. The initial pot, according to Sangamon County State’s Attorney John Milhiser, is about $50,000.
“The taking of property by the government is a very serious, and can be an awesome power that should not be used unwieldingly,” said Lewis, addressing a crowd of a couple dozen who gathered for the news conference Monday afternoon.
Lewis will remain an unbiased voice through the process, he’s not to take the side of either the property owners or the government.
Lewis has so far been tapped relocation ombudsman for the Carpenter Street project, but the eventual Ash Street underpass is still up in the air.