City of Rock Island won’t grant permit to demolish historic county courthouse without state approval

ROCK ISLAND, Illinois -- Rock Island Mayor Mike Thoms said Monday that the city would not grant the demolition permit required to begin tearing down the county courthouse without approval from Illinois state agencies.

It comes after a court order on Friday filed by Chief Circuit Judge of Rock Island County, Walter Braud, ordering the immediate demolition of the historic but outdated building. In the order, Braud said the circuit court is exempt from the Illinois State Agency Historic Resources Preservation Act and the Department of Natural Resources.

"They've heard and seen what Judge Braud is asking for," said the mayor, after speaking with the Illinois DNR. "And at this point they disagree with those findings and thoughts," he said.

The city of Rock Island's Community & Economic Development Director Chandler Poole said his office, which reviews various permits including those required for construction and demolition, has been caught in the middle.

"Does the state have the jurisdiction? Or does the county have the jurisdiction? We’re wondering which one it is," he said.

Alderman Dylan Parker of Rock Island's 5th Ward said the city is ready to issue a stop work notice if the contractor hired to take down the building begins demolition work.

"If tomorrow the DNR and the state historic preservation office were to send a letter and say yes, we approve of it, then there’s no reason that the city shouldn’t issue a demolition permit," Parker said.


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