Courthouse controversy: Potential investor wants to see a power shift

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Advocates hoping to save the historic Rock Island County Courthouse are now turning to Rock Island City Council members.    

Some of them spoke up at Monday night’s city council meeting. 

“I hope that 30 years from now that my great, great-grandchildren are able to look at this beautiful, refurbished, repurposed courthouse as opposed to a green lawn or a juvenile detention center,” said one supporter during the public comment portion of the meeting.  

People who want to save the old building say there are people willing to buy and invest in its renovation but county board members are denying them a seat at the table. 

Now they want city leaders to intervene.

Joe Lemon says the city has land use domain over the courthouse… 
    And is urging city leaders to use that power to take ownership of the courthouse controversy from the county. 
    Lemon is actually the founder of the abbey addiction treatment center in bettendorf, which used to be a hotel. 
    He says he has a proven track record of transforming old buildings…
    And wants to do the same for the old courthouse. 
    Lemon says he’s asked everyone from the county administrator to the board chair and other members for a chance to present his ideas…
    But has never gotten more than a few minutes. 
    That’s  why lemon wants the city to take the lead on this issue. 
    I asked him how they’d do that.
Joe Lemon, Courthouse proposed developer
“Cities sue the federal government, the federal government sues cities. This is how governmental agencies work with one another sometimes when they can’t work cooperatively. So, the city is not required to join the lawsuit by Landmarks Illinois as the only way to exercise control over this. They can file their own lawsuit and, respectfully, they should do anything within their power to bring the county to the negotiating table.” 

    Lemon says he’s just one of many interested investors, but none of them are getting the chance to propose their ideas. 
    He says city leaders giving him the chance to speak at *tonight’s* council meeting is a good sign of their support. 

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