Joan Bunn

City Council reverses decision, gives Historical Society chance to prove finances

July 21, 2011 // 0 Comments

New museum could benefit downtown, community by BETH ALTENA Editor’s note: I apologize this story did not run last week as intended. It was written and sent prior to our printing deadline while I was on vacation in Maine (see pic below right). Unfortunately, it was never received by the staff working hard without me. Next trip we will make sure to bring the entire staff along so communication is improved while on vacation. On Monday, July 11, members of the Rockford City Council apparently reversed an earlier decision turning down a proposal by the Rockford Area Historical Society to open a museum in the former 63rd District Court building. Instead they gave the Society a six-month window to raise half of the funds necessary to renovate the building, located across the parking lot from Rockford City Hall. “Our point all along is give us a shot,” said Historical Society President Terry Konkle. He believes the council may have set a precedent by giving dog park hopefuls a year to fundraise for that project at last month’s meeting. In an after-meeting discussion, Konkle said he felt the Society hadn’t been given a fair chance to present their ideas. They have hired a consultant who has helped other groups, such as the Lowell Historical Society, create museums as well as helped them come up with ways to make the facilities self-sufficient financially. On Monday, May 9, Council felt they should explain their decision regarding the courthouse and a possible museum. Part of the annual budgeting process, just completed by Council, is to make a decision as to what to do with the former court building. One member described the reluctance to approve the Society’s use of the building to that of a bank being asked for a loan. “Council is not in a position to loan money. You are asking for the loan of a building and you need to show you have a plan for that.” Konkle said he heard from members of Council in June that they were interested in meeting with the Society board members, including their consultant, to talk about the project. Konkle, consultant Jerry Adams and others made a presentation Wednesday, June 29, and were asked “a ton of questions,” according […]