"We saw it coming."|
Those were the words of Gordon Weller, a member of the Rock Island Community Redevelopment and Advancement Coalition, at the end of Monday's Rock Island city council meeting.
The city council voted Monday to accept a bid for the demolition of the former Lincoln School at 2125 7th Ave. The city awarded the contract for demolition to Elgin-based American Demolition Corporation, who will demolish the old school, which has been vacant since 1985, for a cost of $444,600.
According to a memo in the meeting agenda, American Demolition Corporation will have 120 days to demolish the school.
Mr. Weller said that members of the Coalition, formed in May, were not surprised that the council voted as it did. The motion to accept the bid was passed 6-1, with Ald. Jason Jones, 5th Ward, the lone dissenting vote.
"We knew it was an uphill battle," Mr. Weller said. "There was a strong pull to demolish the building."
Coalition member Nicholas Babeu spoke on behalf of the group during the council meeting. He told the council that the 118-year-old building is part of Rock Island's identity, and he felt city officials were not putting forth enough effort to save it.
"It feels like the city has let the building go into a state of disrepair," Mr. Babeu said. "Why are we destroying what makes us unique? The building is by no means beyond saving."
After the meeting, Mr. Babeu said he agreed with Mr. Weller that the council's decision to demolish the school was not a surprise.
"They had their plans already set in stone," he said.
Coalition member Adam Kirschbaum agreed.
"Over the last couple weeks, we definitely got the impression that's where the city was headed," he said.
Rock Island bought the school in 2007 for $53,000.
Ald. Jones, whose 5th ward includes the old school, agreed.
"This is a sad day," he told the council. "Preservation is not a barrier to progress."
Ald. Terry Brooks, 1st Ward, said the city had tried for a long time to find something to do with the school and that the time had come to make a decision about its fate.
"It's time to put it to rest," Ald. Brooks said. "Some things you just can't save."
Ald. Jones said that with the fate of the former school sealed, he and the council can concentrate on how best to use the lot.
"It's time to move forward and plan," he said.
In other business, the council voted unanimously to install cameras on light poles in and around Longview Park. One camera will be mounted on a light pole near the park's basketball court and another will be on a light pole on 15th Avenue. The cost, according to the agenda, is $13,290.
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