Preservationists say they’re hiring attorney in courthouse demolition fight

ROCK ISLAND - A group of local preservationists say they plan an 11th hour attempt to try and save the Rock Island County courthouse, and are hiring an attorney to see if using bond money tied to the new annex is legal.

"Is it legal for them to propose taking this money to use it for demolition without going back to the voters?  We just want to make sure that everybody is playing by the rules," said Diann Moore with the Moline Preservation Society and Diane Oestrich from the Rock Island Preservation Society, said about the county board's upcoming vote on a demolition deal.

"Our end game is to try to save the building," said Moore.

Both attended Monday's Rock Island County Board's Governance committee meeting and stated they were in the process of hiring an attorney from outside the area.

As the meeting ended, Rock Island County States Attorney John McGehee announced he had a ruling in hand from the law firm the county hired for an opinion on the legality of using bond money from the Public Building Commission to tear down the courthouse.

Read the full opinion here: Opinion on the legality of using bond money from the Public Building Commission to tear down the courthouse.

He said the county retained Chapman and Cutler law firm out of Chicago for $2,500, and they recently issued a favorable ruling.

"They say the money can be used to demolish and prepare the site. It's very clear," McGehee said.

At the same meeting, the committee voted to approve a revised agreement with the Public Building Commission, which will provide the 1.5 to 2 million dollar projected cost to tear down the courthouse, until July 18th.

The full county board meets next week.

The demolition vote has been tabled several times.