Winnebago County Jail

By: Erica Hurtt
By: Erica Hurtt

Bulldozers are busy in downtown Rockford this week knocking down the first of dozens of buildings to make way for the county's new criminal justice center.

"Some of the things are in pretty bad repair so it will actually makes things look nice for a while," said Rosalind Reis, who works at the nearby Rockford Day Nursery.

But then things will get tricky. The nursery has been at the site on Rockton Avenue for more than 87 years, but it will be demolished for the jail. However, management has yet to find a new location.

"Even though I knew this was coming it's hard to see. It was hard for the staff, parents and even the children. They had questions about why the buildings are coming down," said Reis.

And now that the first bricks have fallen, the pressure is piling up.

"There is pressure for us to say where we're going. How much it's going to cost (the county) and when we're going to be out of the building," said Reis.

Leaders for the county project say they know it's a difficult process, but they have to move forward.

"It's a big process to relocate four blocks, but we're moving along and hope to wind it up quickly," said Gary Burdett, Winnebago County Criminal Justice Center project manager.

So far six buildings have been leveled. Burdett says the county will continue demolitions in sections of four or five at a time in order to break ground on the justice center in early 2005.

In the meantime, Rockford Day Nursery hopes to find a new home in the next few weeks.


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