Rock Island County residents want old courthouse saved

ROCK ISLAND - While work begins on a brand new $28 million Rock Island County justice center, the question now is what to do with the old one.

For more than 120 years the iconic courthouse building in downtown Rock Island has been at the heart of the county's court system. A witness to countless trials that determined life and death. Now it's life must be decided.

As the county starts construction of a new courthouse complex, county administrators are going to the public to see if there is the support to renovate the old building and find a new use for it.  Tuesday night the county board held a public hearing, most of the residents who spoke want to see the county keep the old courthouse.

"It`s a long-term asset if it can be repurposed is an iconic landmark on the Mississippi river," said one man who spoke in opposition of getting rid of the courthouse.

All of the options come at a cost to a county already strapped for cash.

"We`ve cut millions over the last couple years since I've been here," said Dave Ross, county administrator.

One proposal to save the courthouse involves an added tax for renovation and maintenance, but residents say they don't want to see an increase in taxes, "We will not support a tax increase of any kind for the courthouse," said one taxpayer.

Either way, this building's future depends on what people are willing to spend.

"It does come down to money one way or another I mean it all does," said Ross.

The courthouse will still be used until the justice center is done in the fall of 2018. The county board has until then to decide.