Courthouse Demolition Blocked
The effort to save the old Rock Island County courthouse has won a round in court. Thursday the Third District Appellate Court ruled in favor of some local residents and state agencies, and against the county which has been trying to demolish it.
Frank Butterfield from Landmarks Illinois says the court decided the county must comply with the Illinois State Historic Resources Preservation Act, and consider all feasible alternatives for the 123 year old courthouse.
"It's been our position that before spending taxpayer money to demolish the courthouse the county should seek, consider, and engage with all alternatives. So we've demonstrated that there is private interest in re-use and there is possible re-use as a federal courthouse."
The county has been trying to demolish the courthouse, saying it would be too expensive to update, and also poses a security risk for the nearby Justice Center and court annex.
Butterfield thinks saving the courthouse will do more than just preserve a historic building.
"Mainly because we heard from the people of Rock Island that this place matters to them, that it's a historic building that's important to the community, and can be for the future important in economic activity and job creation and a vital place in downtown Rock Island."
Justices sent the case back to the circuit court with orders that Rock Island County cannot proceed with demolition until it complies with the preservation act.
County Board Chair Richard Brunk says the state's attorney's office is reviewing the decision, and he may be able comment on it next week.