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Rock Island Co. Courthouse Demolition Approved

Michelle O'Neill
Members of the Rock Island County Public Building Commission discuss demolition of the courthouse, with Pat Wendt (left, foreground)

A contractor could begin tearing down the Rock Island County courthouse in about a month. At Thursday's special meeting, the Public Building Commission unanimously approved three contracts, including demolition, asbestos abatement, and landscaping. Chair Brent Ganahl says all three add up to nearly $800,000. 

Credit Michelle O'Neill / WVIK News
Diane Oestreich from the Rock Island Preservation Society speaks to the Public Building Commission.

Before the vote, the commission heard from several people who are opposed to demolition of the 120-year-old courthouse, including Diane Oestreich from the Rock Island Preservation Society.

She says two years ago, the State Historic Preservation Office approved the county's plan to build a new annex to the Criminal Justice Center. But it did not include the demolition of the courthouse, a historic resource. Oestreich says Illinois law requires an analysis of the impact of any project. 

Next Tuesday, Rock Island County will hold a grand opening for the new, $28 million annex to the Criminal Justice Center, which features four courtrooms and offices.

Update 12/7/2018 5:26 P.M.

Early this week, the Illinois Dept. of Natural Resources mailed a letter to an engineer and copied it to the Rock Island County Board and Public Building Commission. Some county board members have received a copy of the letter, and it is posted below.

It states that a submission to the state for review of the justice center annex project did not include the plan to demolish the existing courthouse. A 2016 letter of compliance from the State Historic Preservation Office has been revoked. In addition, "consultation with the SHPO is required prior to any adverse actions occurring to the historic structure." 

IL SHPO Notice on Courthouse Demolition by Michelle O'Neill on Scribd

Officially, Michelle's title is WVIK News Editor. She does everything there is to do in the newsroom and whatever may be needed around the radio station.
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