Debate over Rock Island County Courthouse building heats up

A letter to the county board from the Chief Judge has sparked debate

ROCK ISLAND, Ill. - It's been standing at the Illinois base of the Centennial Bridge for over 120 years. But with Rock Island County's new justice center annex expected to open next year, the question becomes, what happens to the old courthouse building?


"My letter is going to make them decide, because they need to get to it," said Illinois 14th Circuit Chief Judge Walter Braud.

The letter, sent by he, and Public Building Commission chairman Richard Fisher, says Rock Island County's justice center annex is on schedule, and its finished product doesn't include the current county courthouse.

"Remove the old courthouse, and put in a memorial park, and preserve all of the historic stuff that's out there in that park," said Braud.

He says the conditions inside the century-old building have steadily decreased over the years.

"The asbestos infestation, water contamination, all of the electric systems are ancient, and can't be renewed. You'd have to gut this building down to its walls," Braud said. 

He says according to a study, those renovations could cost around $22 million.
Money that is currently missing from Rock Island County.

"We know the county doesn't have money. But, what are the options?" says county board member Drue Mielke.

He says the board has final authority in this case, and they have yet to make a decision.

"We were understanding that we were in the process," Mielke said. "And, all of a sudden, the rug got pulled out, or at least it appeared that way. But, they don't have the power. We have the ultimate decision. We are the elected officials. I'm not getting on my high horse, I'm just saying it's my job. It's our job, as a board."

The justice center annex is expected to be ready by November of next year.


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