County board approves $4.1 million bid
Despite 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 for the project.
Plans call for the building to be located at 103 Jefferson Street, Oregon, where the current sheriff's office is situated.
However, that site has brought opposition from board members and citizens.
Beth Henderson, owner of the Eagles Nest, located a block north from 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.
As a nearby landowner, Henderson said she was never contacted about the plans for the new sheriff's building.
Not developing the area for tourism will reduce the value of her property, she said.
Henderson also said the taxes on her property are high because of its location next to the river.
A better location for the sheriff's building, she said, would be on the 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, in contrast to tourism development.
She said Western Illinois University has been contacted and would 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 included in Oregon's Comprehensive Plan 10 years ago.
Board member Skip Kenney, Rochelle, made a motion to table accepting the bid until the May 20 meeting to allow time to do the economic impact 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 does not understand the opposition to the location.
He said the new building will 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, Mt. Morris, disagreed. "It's a $4 million roadblock to tourism," he said.
The motion to table the bid failed by a vote of 8 to 13.
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.