Last minute discussion before city panel votes on future of Rock - WREX.com – Rockford’s News Leader

Last minute discussion before city panel votes on future of Rockford P.D.

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ROCKFORD (WREX) -

A preliminary vote that could affect the future of Rockford Police Department is just two days away, but changes are being proposed in the ninth hour.

"Just going to the ware center as a permanent location would be cheaper than going to Avon and West State Street," says City of Rockford Administrator Jim Ryan.

The Ware Center, located on Rockford's west side near West State Street and Winnebago Street has been brought to the table as a possible permanent department location in the geographic policing initiative's District One, but not everyone is on board.

"I do not feel ware is a suitable location-- even temporary. I'm tired that we are talking about temporary locations," says 9th Alderman Teena Newburg.

Some aldermen prefer a new district building near West State Street and Avon Street over the Ware Center because of its closer proximity to neighborhoods. Another option brought to light today, possibly extending time in the PSB.

"I think that's an alternative. If you look at the cost of the move and everything else with doing that, we should see if we can cut a deal with the county to stay put," suggests 4th Ward Alderman Kevin Frost.

But, to some officials, that option is not feasible.

"The longer we go and stay in the Public Safety Building, the mechanicals could potentially fail and then we are going to have an issue with how we are going to pay for that," says Rockford Police Department Chief Chet Epperson.

Overall, the project, which could be a couple temporary locations and permanent spaces, like Turner School at 1400 Broadway in District Two and the old post office on the city's east-side near East State Street and New Towne Drive in District Three, is expected to cost the city roughly $20 million. Funding will come from the Capital Improvement Plan, made up of revenue like motor fuel taxes.

"It's a significant hit on the capital fund but it's a priority," Ryan adds.

Leaders say the city has committed to two permanent locations for district headquarters at Turner School and the former post office on New Towne Drive. What will happen with the Ware Center is scheduled to be voted on in committee on Monday.

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Two major projects are being vetted in Rockford.

One aims to boost sports tourism, and the other, to bring down crime.

The Ingersoll project would transform the old Ingersoll space near Chestnut Street and Water Street downtown into a sports complex.

That would require roughly $11 million out of the city's redevelopment fund over the next 20 years.

"We think in the first two years that we might see a little bit of a deficit, but that will move into a surplus as we move forward," Rockford City Administrator, Jim Ryan said.

City officials project this sports complex to cost roughly $24 million.

Federal and state grants cover about half of that.

The other half? The city will have to pay.

It needs to take out about $12 million in loans to move forward with this project.

Rockford city Administrator Jim Ryan, says that means tapping into the Redevelopment Fund.

That fund is fueled from taxes collected on hotel room charges, restaurant food and liquor, as well as packaged liquor.

To some alderman, dipping into this fund is risky if it means possibly going into the red.

But, for others on the council, like 7th Ward Alderman Ann Thompson-Kelly, it will be more fruitful for the city in the end.

"If we don't create revenue generating facilities, we are always going to be in the deficit. So the Ingersol Building is gIngersolldo just that. It is going to create revenue. If you don't spend money you won't make money," Thompson-Kelly said.

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