The Rock Island County consolidation committee on Tuesday heard the estimated costs of various proposals for county offices and courtrooms, including possibly moving to the Quad Cities Industrial Center.
The committee was created in late April to study the move supporters say would give the county a new and modern home paid for through energy and maintenance savings. There is concern, however, over the future of the historic courthouse and county office building if the county moved out and the impact it would have on downtown Rock Island businesses.
Kent Pilcher of Estes Construction on Tuesday reported on the possible costs of four options. Along with the move to the QCIC site, other options included building a new courthouse/county administrative facility in downtown Rock Island, rehabilitating the existing buildings and keeping things as they are.
Moving to the QCIC site would cost $34 million to $34.5 million, Mr. Pilcher said. Building a new courthouse would cost an estimated $47 million to $49 million, he said, and rehabilitation would cost an estimated $40 million to $41 million.
Anticipating the cost of no change was difficult to assess, he said, noting all of the buildings face significant issues such as not meeting needs, state/federal requirements or aging equipment and infrastructure. Within 10 years, he said, the costs of keeping the buildings functioning could be $6 million and $7 million.
Consolidation committee chairman Tom Rockwell, D-Coal Valley, asked other members to write up their thoughts on the options, their recommendations and their assessment of the county's current facilities. The reports will be consolidated into a final report that is expected to be presented to the full county board by July.
Other committee members are Rock Island County Associate Judge Richard Zimmer, Rock Island County Sheriff Jeff Boyd, businessman Matt Stern, Renaissance Rock Island President Brian Hollenback and Rock Island County Board member Rod Simmer, R-Rock Island. The group will next meet June 26
More than 20 people filled the small meeting room and stood in the hall during Tuesday's meeting. At the end, several expressed concern -- some quite vehemently -- over whether there had been enough public input into the process.
Mr. Rockwell said they could submit their thoughts to the committee in writing. Some, however, countered they wanted a public forum.
Paul Inman, of Rock Island, said the county office decision should be made by a public referendum rather than by the county board.
"You absolutely need a public vote," he said.
He questioned the sturdiness of the proposed QCIC site compared to the current stone buildings and cited other concerns, including fears that access to the site would be hampered by railroads and Rock Island's downtown would be "devastated."
Instead, he proposed an annex on the existing courthouse parking lot and the creation of more parking across the street.
Scott Christiansen, president of LRC Developers which owns the QCIC, on Tuesday said he believes the QCIC option would mean a significant savings for the county compared to the other options.
"We also believe it is a good location for Rock Island County," he said, saying it could provide an opportunity to create redevelopment on both the east and west sides of Rock Island.
For more information:
-- To view the Estes report presented Tuesday night, visit QCOnline.com.
-- For more information on LRC's proposal, visit www.ricountycampus.com.