Debate of old Freeport city hall continues - WREX.com – Rockford’s News Leader

Debate of old Freeport city hall continues

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FREEPORT (WREX) -

In a city that once held a great debate between Lincoln and Douglas, another debate looms--what to do with Freeport's old city hall.

For some, saving the old city hall means saving over a century's worth of Freeport history.

"Freeport was organized in the 1830's and 1840's, so for most of Freeport's history it served at Freeport's city hall and fire station," Highland Community College Andy Dvorak said.

Since it was built in 1899, this structure been a staple in Freeport.

The city decided to evacuate it when its structural integrity was compromised.

"I guess mold, cracks in the building, you know the usual setting of a building that was built a century ago," Dvorak said.

Since that move, the building has been a topic of debate.

Renovate the space into a newly improved city hall or move city hall to another location like the Carnegie Hall Library.

So the city put the question in residents hands.

According to the survey conducted by the city of Freeport, most do not want to see the old city hall demolished, but what they also don't want to see is city offices back in this building.

"Now it needs to be extensively renovated in the interior, especially," Dvorak said.

The price tag? $4 million.

Renovating Carnegie Hall would cost the city about $3 million, but this comes at a time when the city is in an economic bind.

The "Citizens for Saving Old City Hall" want both buildings to stay.

The Illinois Historical Preservation Organization agrees.

They recently approved the old city hall building to be eligible for a national historical recognition.

This group hopes that recognition may sway council into re-examining the possibility of investing in old city hall.

"I think that sends a message to business people both in the community and outside the community that this is a good place to invest in," Dvorak said.

City staff is currently renting out temporary office space.

Residents seemed to be in favor of that in the survey as well.

According to city leaders, the council will hopefully make a decision by the end of next month on the future of city hall.

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