IL Justices to Hear Arguments in Rock Island Co. Courthouse Case

Nov 5, 2019

A group protests the planned demolition of the Rock Island County courthouse, Rock Island, IL (file)
Credit Michelle O'Neill / WVIK News

Oral arguments are set for tomorrow at 9 am in Ottawa, IL in the appeal of the Rock Island County courthouse case.

Michelle O'Neill has more.


Last winter, Landmarks Illinois, four preservation groups, and two individuals filed a lawsuit to prevent the county's Public Building Commission from demolishing the 122-year-old building. Then last March, a Peoria County judge threw out their complaint, but Illinois' Third District Appellate Court agreed to hear the appeal.

Frank Butterfield, from Landmarks Illinois, says the plaintiffs are confident in their original claims. Past courthouse demolition proposals have been required to follow state law. And since last spring, the Illinois DNR and EPA have filed an amicus brief supporting the plaintiffs' claim that the state historic preservation act does apply to the county courthouse.

The two agencies have also started a process required by the Illinois Historic Preservation Resources Act.* Butterfield says as part of that process, a draft proposal from the Illinois DNR and EPA explores the feasibility of re-use and marketing the courthouse for a period of time. 

The main thrust of the plaintiffs' claim is that Rock Island County's Public Building Commission plans to violate the Illinois State Historic Resources Preservation Act.

Rock Island County Board Chair Richard Brunk has not yet returned a call from WVIK News. 

*Note: The first version of this story stated that Rock Island County did not participate in the Illinois DNR and EPA draft proposal process. That's based on County Administrator Jim Snider's answers to questions from WVIK News about the process. But Landmarks Illinois' Frank Butterfield says the county did participate in the process. So WVIK News removed the phrase, "without Rock Island County's participation" from the web article and radio story.