After land sale to developer, what's next for Tazewell County's plans for a downtown Pekin campus expansion?
Tazewell County was waiting for an answer on the purchase of land behind the Tobin Building before proceeding further with planning for a new Justice Center annex.
Last week, the Pekin City Council gave them one when it sold the land in question to developer Randy Price.
"It's unfortunate that we won't be able to move forward as intended," said Tazewell County Administrator Mike Deluhery. "Now, it certainly puts more options on the table."
One of those options is proceeding with the controversial demolitions of the historic county-owned Arcade and Tobin buildings as planned, albeit with a reduced footprint. A 24,000 square foot plan would move probation services and the public defender's offices into a new annex on the site.
An upscaled 40,000 square foot plan also shifts three felony courtrooms from the current courthouse to address overcrowding and safety concerns.
The original plan was to connect the jail to the felony courtrooms using a new secured walkway.
Deluhery didn't elaborate on the other options, but he did say it's something that the county board would likely begin to discuss at committee level this month.
"We're going to start having discussions and then, you know, that may carry forward to the board," he said.
County board chairman Dave Zimmerman has previously said demolition of the historic 1916 courthouse isn't an option on the table.
The county administrator said the discussions also pertain to the opening of a new health department satellite location at 4th and St. Mary St.
"We were planning on using an area that we currently use for juror parking. And the intent was to move that closer to the other side of campus with the new Justice Annex," he said. "with not being able to potentially switch those services, that would affect where we'd be able to put the health department."
The site on Broadway St. used by the health department for COVID-19 services is currently unavailable, Deluhery said.
He said the main goal is to offer services like a dental clinic and WIC assistance closer than Tremont to the main population center of the county - be it Pekin, or another community like East Peoria. The dental clinic was previously located in a North Pekin strip mall before its closure.
The county has about $22 million worth of funds from the American Rescue Plan Act left to spend, and a little time left to figure out how to spend it. Deluhery said those funds need to be committed to projects by the end of 2024, and spent by the end of 2026.
"We're striving to use the federal funding that we received in way to make our buildings efficient for Tazewell County, which ultimately benefits the systems throughout the whole county," he said.