Committee backs courthouse repair expenses

Committee backs courthouse repair expenses

URBANA — A Champaign County Board committee endorsed spending approximately $304,000 this year on repairs and maintenance to the county courthouse in downtown Urbana.

The exact cost of the project won't be known until this summer when bids are open and approved by the board. Funding for the work would come from $827,106 in the courthouse construction fund.

The vote among members of the board's facilities committtee was 6-1; only Champaign Democrat Rachel Schwartz was opposed. She said she didn't believe it was responsible to commit to the project without first knowing the extent of maintenance needed at other county buildings.

Riley Glerum of IGW, an Urbana architectural firm, said that the repairs needed to the original 1901 courthouse building include replacement of cracked brick to prevent water penetration, and to install expansion joints in the masonry to allow for expansion and contraction of the building's exterior.

Damage to the old courthouse building was limited to its south and west facades, Glerum said. A "conservative estimate" for the cost of the work, he said, is $120,000.

"If you don't do this now, you'll be spending a lot more money to get it all repaired," said committee chairman Stan James, a rural Rantoul Republican.

Another approximately $185,000 is budgeted for the maintenance of the newer (approximately 10 years old) section of the courthouse, including removing and replacing joint sealants, and repairing, cleaning and sealing the building's masonry.

Also Tuesday, the facilities committee, along with a special citizens' committee, voted to recommmend that the county board accept a bequest from the late Mrs. Elva Hensley Greeson for the clock and bell tower at the county courthouse, including the ongoing maintenance of the 1877-vintage courthouse clock.

Steve Beckett, a former member of the county board and a member of the citizens' committee, estimated that the bequest is worth $75,000 to $100,000.

The full board will consider the recommendation later this month.

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