Rock Island County voters recently rejected the "blank check" referendum to build a new courthouse. A committee will draft another proposal, this time with actual costs.|
But, it was not just the "cost" voters are against, they oppose moving the courthouse from downtown. Another development that has met opposition is destruction of Audubon School for another grocery store on 18th Avenue. A new Fareway would saturate the market (especially given the new Walmart), and be a slap in the face to Aldi and Hy-Vee which have invested so much in that area.
Rather than taking an all-or-nothing approach, I believe we need innovative solutions that meet government needs (not their "wants") and also appease citizens.
For example, Fareway has not officially purchased the property. The county should buy Audubon and use it as a courthouse annex. Both buildings could be gutted and remodeled to meet today's standards. Audubon could host the traffic and civil courts, as well as county clerk offices. Violent cases could still be held downtown close to the jail. A centralized building is not necessary with today's technology.
Plus, many creative individuals have worked hard to revive downtown, and we cannot abandon all that work by removing its anchor. (The Seaford factory could be another option for an annex or police station.) I believe the leaders and citizens can find some resourceful solutions to meet today's needs while still preserving our history and character.
Orion, IL Details
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