News-Sun Staff Report Nov 8, 2010 4:02PM
Some residents are calling for more minority and female participation in the expansion project at the Greenbelt Cultural Center in North Chicago.
The $5.6 million project includes the construction of a new 18,500-square-foot building adjacent to the existing facility, which is owned and operated by the Lake County Forest Preserve District.
Waukegan resident Chris Blanks, local president of Al Sharpton’s National Action Network, said Thursday that no black or female laborers are working on the project.
“It’s an embarrassment,” Blanks said. “This is a Lake County cultural center erected and established in the name of cultural expression and diversity, but we don’t see this as far as where our tax dollars go in. This is $5 million building.”
Blanks said Thursday morning that members of his group would protest at the center Thursday afternoon.
Lake County Forest Preserve Board member Angelo Kyle of Waukegan said he was aware of Blanks’ complaints. Kyle said that he had spoken with the general contractor of the project, who said they use the workers sent to the project by the unions.
Kyle said he believes contractors could exert authority to request minority and female participation. He said he was unsure if the forest preserve district would address the matter, but added that he feels minorities need to be involved “with the influx of construction in the county” resulting from federal stimulus programs.
District Executive Director Tom Hahn said Thursday that the district has a purchasing policy that includes open bidding and the selection of the lowest responsible bidder. The district does not have a minority hiring policy included in its contract awards, he said.