Woodstock could tackle courthouse issue soon
Woodstock expects to release a report that should help the City Council and Historic Preservation Commission members determine the next steps to take with the Old Courthouse building.
At the annual State of the City luncheon, hosted by the Woodstock Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Mayor Brian Sager said Rockford-based Gary W. Anderson Architects & Associates had conducted a survey of the building to identify short-term and long-term needs and goals associated with the structure.
The Council and commission may host their first joint meeting in June or July. The mayor said the initial meeting would likely address four topics.
The first is what to do with the garage at the rear of the property, which is in disrepair. The council and commission also would look at immediate needs and possible grant opportunities to fund some of the improvements that are most critical. Sager said the establishment of an anticipated time frame for the improvements, as well as an extension of a Request for Proposals from a private entity, would also be a goal since the city ultimately wants to transfer the property to a viable private entity. Finally, he said the council and commission would discuss a procedure to accommodate public input regarding future uses of the building.
“We’ll be taking a slow, progressive approach to all these things,” he reiterated. At the State of the City, he said an RFP is likely a year to year-and-a-half away, but even that estimate is tentative. In addition to financial constraints that will keep progress on the building slow, Sager said the city wants to take its time to determine the highest and best use for the property. “It’s going to take time. We’ve accomplished a lot, but there is a lot yet to be accomplished.”
Budgets and business
In addition to the Old Courthouse updates, Sager and City Manager Tim Clifton spoke about the fiscal oversight in the city and economic growth over the past year.
The city cut about $818,000 from its budget. While departments have cut costs across the board, the city is operating down 18 full-time positions and 12 part-time positions in order to balance the budget. Clifton said the staff reductions are likely the new normal for the city, but said additional staffing cuts would likely impact city services.
Sager spoke to the recent opening of Kohl’s and the announcement of Panera Bread as increases to the city’s commercial base. Still, he said the already established businesses have paved the way.
“This Council, this city recognizes the tremendous accomplishments each and every one of you have made,” Sager told the business representatives in attendance.
Clifton said interest remains in some of the outlots near Kohl’s and Menards and said retailers are likely waiting to see initial sales figures from Kohl’s.