Historic preservation group reiterates demand for postponement of courthouse demolition
The group is called the Courthouse Revitalization Committee (and it is different from the “Save the Courthouse” group). Committee member Greg Swanson, of Moline, says he filed Freedom of Information requests with Rock Island County Council to learn more about what led to the council’s decision to tear it down .
In Illinois, sheriffs are responsible for looking after the repair and upkeep of the courthouse. In Rock Island County, it was Gerry Bustos who spoke to the board of trustees and the Public Buildings Commission about the state of the 125-year-old building.
And Swanson says some of his statements were inaccurate and misleading. For example, the sheriff spoke of “concrete” and pieces falling from the building. But the building is made of limestone, and Swanson says the sheriff and the county have failed to clean it up and get it back in over the years.
Swanson says that based on his research and records obtained from freedom of information requests, he believes a small group of county officials decided to tear down the courthouse long before the city council. administration does not consider it.
Committee calls for investigation and renews call on Rock Island County Council (Council) to suspend demolition activities and gather accurate information before spending more than $674,000 to tear down historic Rock Island Courthouse Island.
The press release summarizes puzzling information obtained by researching public records and FOIA requests submitted to various government entities.
Courtouse Revitalization Committee, Greg Swanson
The courthouse revitalization committee would like the county council to delay the demolition, form partnerships and find a solution. Swanson says that includes conducting an impartial assessment of the value and structural integrity of the old courthouse.
Members of the Courthouse Revitalization Committee plan to speak at the Rock Island County Council meeting tonight.
Two years ago, the Illinois Third District Court of Appeals ruled that the county could not demolish the courthouse without complying with the state’s Historic Resources Preservation Act. Since then, Rock Island County has been in talks with the State Historic Preservation Office to document the building’s history and comply with the law. It’s officially known as registration.
Once the state office notifies the county in writing that registration is complete, demolition can begin.
Click on the attachment below to read the committee’s full statement on its findings and conclusions.