Preservationists say there’s still hope for the RICO Courthouse

ROCK ISLAND, Illinois-- Even as the Rock Island County Courthouse came one step closer to demolition Tuesday night, those hoping to save the historic building from the wrecking ball said there are still options.

"What (the Rock Island County Board is) doing is just a fast fix and not thinking wisely about how valuable this building really is to the county," said George Barajas, an architect at Italo Milani.

The public building commission will oversee the demolition of the old courthouse. This could give preservationists time to change the building's fate.

"There's just many, many organizations that would step up and come forward and be part of this rehabilitating of the building," Barajas said.

He said the $1.6 million being used to demolition the courthouse could go towards a fund that would renovate it instead. He said local businesses could donate to help as well, and then they'd be able to open up shop in the courthouse offices.

"If this building were to be repurposed at some point in the future, renovation is always less expensive than new construction," said Bill Handel, an architect originally from the Quad Cities area. "And the $1.6 million to be used for (demolition) is probably the most flagrant abuse and waste of taxpayer money I could think of."

Handel said if the courthouse is torn down, residents will just be left with a green space rather than a potentially useful building.

Barajas said people need to start forming a proposal to repurpose.