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Officials on Lincoln Developmental Center Task Force frustrated by delays   Send a link to a friend

[JUNE 16, 2004]  Two government officials serve on the 24-member Lincoln Developmental Center Task Force that was formed last year to reopen the campus to former residents. Both Lincoln Mayor Beth Davis and Sen. Larry Bomke have felt that the group's efforts have been hindered by a few individuals who do not want the Lincoln campus reopened to residents.

Mayor Davis said, "I think what we're doing here that we just can't get past sometimes is comparing apples to oranges and the needs of certain individuals." Task force members are all advocates of individuals with disabilities and want them to be able to be independent, self-serving, anything that increases their productivity during the day and helps them feel more a part of society. "That's what we're after," she said.

She believes that what community-based living advocates are misunderstanding is that we are dealing with the profoundly developmentally disabled: individuals who don't have a voice, can't hear, can't see. Their parents or guardians should be the ones to speak up for them. "And that's what they are missing; they are overlooking that point."

She said she sees that the parents are "very disheartened, very upset." They are getting older and have to travel farther than they did before. "We do have the number that want to come back to LDC."

"There is one little, small group that doesn't think that we are serving individuals with disabilities in the proper way. And we are. We are all on their side. But they are not seeing that," she said.

Last Thursday's results were more positive toward getting the differences resolved, once the groups that have been opposing, Coalition of Citizens with Disabilities and Equip for Equality, realized we really want to put an integrated community on the old LDC campus. A lake and homes are proposed.

From the start, when the task force began meeting, three members that favor community-based living were opposed to the campus setting, seeing it as too isolated from the rest of society. While two members who would have also voted in favor were gone, the task force voted 21-3 for the plan to reopen an integrated campus accommodating everyone's needs. "I think these three individuals need to recognize that and start moving a little in their direction for us," the mayor said.

Sen. Larry Bomke felt that the last meeting went better than he thought it might. It was very orderly, and he felt that the group was moving along. "It's very frustrating, particularly for myself," he said. "I thought a year ago I had a commitment from the governor to reopen LDC as it was. There are advocates and parents of former residents there that want that to occur."

 

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Since that time we have come 340 degrees in reducing the numbers and that still doesn't satisfy the community-based advocates, Bomke said. "I am of the opinion that the only thing that will satisfy them is if we do nothing at the former Lincoln Developmental Center," he said.

But, we'll continue to move on and hopefully we'll be approved by the Health Facilities Planning Board, Sen. Bomke said. Once that is done the bids can be let out and construction can begin.

Capital spending and operational expenses for renovations and startup were in place to start up if a plan had been made and approved last year. The state's fiscal 2003-2004 budget had $7 million in funds set aside. Last year the powerhouse was started up and maintenance began without a line item, so we can do the same thing this fiscal year, Bomke said. The House has again budgeted money, he said. Speaker Madigan's Senate budget did not have LDC in it. Sen. Emil Jones' budget did. Rep. Jim Watson has been approached for his support, Bomke said.

DHS Secretary Dr. Carol Adams said: "I think we are making progress. I think it's slow, but that's all right. These are real critical issues that are really important to a lot of people. So if it takes longer, then longer is what it takes."

What we want in the end is an outcome that first of all meets the needs of the people for whom it is planned, Secretary Adams said. That is the thing that we have all in common and that's what drives us to keep on meeting like this: to look at what going to best meet the needs of disabled people in our state.

Major differences lie between care of disabled and the profoundly disabled. Adams concedes that satisfying all advocates for disabled people will probably not happen. "We'll come as close as we can to meeting the needs of the individuals that we're talking about and having something that's state-of-the-art that represents the current thinking about how people ought to live and in what kind of community," she said. "We're not trying to go back a hundred years when the original Lincoln was first constructed. We're trying to do something new and innovative."

Today (June 16) the Illinois Health Facilities Planning Board is discussing the LDC plan and request to open.

[Jan Youngquist]

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