OREGON – Despite some opposition to the location, the Ogle County Board went ahead Tuesday with plans to build a new sheriff’s administration building.
The board accepted a $4.1 million bid from Rockford Structures.
Plans call for the building to be at 103 Jefferson St., which is the site of the current sheriff’s office.
However, that site has brought opposition from some board members and citizens.
Beth Henderson, owner of the Eagles Nest, which is a block north of the sheriff’s building, urged the board to reconsider because that area, which is next to the Rock River, has been earmarked for a riverfront district.
“Oregon has all the components to promote tourism,” she said.
One of the main components for tourism and recreation is the river and the area surrounding it, she said.
Although she owns land nearby, Henderson said she had never been contacted about plans for the new sheriff’s building.
By not allowing the area to be developed for tourism, the county will reduce the value of her property, she said.
A better location for the sheriff’s building, she said, would be on property the county owns on South Sixth Street, west of the judicial center.
Henderson asked the board to delay the project at least long enough to do an economic impact study of the area and determine the effect the sheriff’s building would have on it, as opposed to tourism development.
She said Western Illinois University had agreed to do the study at no cost to the county. WIU did an economic impact study before the judicial center was built.
Oregon City Commissioner Ken Williams also asked for a 30-day moratorium on the project to allow time for the study. He said the area is a main part of the riverfront district in Oregon’s Comprehensive Plan 10 years ago.
Board member Skip Kenney, Rochelle, made a motion to table the bid until the May 20 meeting to allow time to do the study.
“I do not support the location. I support the project,” he said. “All I’m asking for is 30 days.”
Board chairman Kim Gouker, Byron, said he did not understand the opposition to the location. He said the new building would be a “$4 million improvement” over the present century-old building.
“The sheriff’s department has been there for 30 years,” he said.
Board member Ron Colson, Mount Morris, disagreed. “It’s a $4 million roadblock to tourism,” he said.
The motion to table the bid failed by a vote of 13-8.
The new administration building will house the sheriff’s department, 911 communications center, and the coroner’s office and morgue.
Architect Guy Gehlhausen said Rockford Structures’ bid was the lowest of eight submitted.
Rockford Structures is also the contractor for the new Sinnissippi Centers Inc. building across Jefferson Street from the sheriff’s office.