Rockford’s Public Safety Building on West State Street was once home to the Winnebago County Sheriff’s Department, Rockford Police, and the County Coroner. Now all that remains is the morgue, which sits in the buildings basement underground.
County leaders are strongly considering tearing it down. “I am not aware and I don’t think anybody is, nobody believes that a long term option exists of not tearing it down.” said Winnebago County Board Chairman Frank Haney
Officials in the past have said the cost to maintain the building was roughly 1.6 million dollars a year. Haney says demolition could be expensive, but will save taxpayers money in the long run.
“It’s going to cost us more not to tear it down over time,” Haney said. “Again we want to make sure that everything we do, that it makes sense long term,” he added.
Talks of a possible year lease with the Rockford Mass Transit District are ongoing. Board member Eli Nicolosi says while demolition is possible, they are also looking into potential short-term revenue.
“We had a possible opportunity today, and we might have a few more that we are looking into,” Nicolosi said. “So were trying to see what’s most useful to our constituents and what we could do to fairly justify having it,” he added.
“If something pops up in the short term, yeah, but it is very unlikely,” Haney said. “In fact it’s impossible that there is going to be a long term tenant situation,” he added.
Feasibility tests are scheduled for the building in 2018. The earliest possible demolition would be in 2019. “We would then realize operational savings, which obviously long term is a serious in a county that has budget concerns,” Haney said.
Even though the building is largely empty, Haney says it will take time to plan its demolition.
The Winnebago County Boards Operations Committee decided to remove the lease agreement with the RMTD from Thursday night’s agenda. The next time an agreement could be discussed would be in two weeks.