'Reclaiming First' Project

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ROCKFORD (WIFR) -- Lawmakers have yet to decide whether to fund the reclaiming first project, which includes turning a downtown Rockford landmark into an indoor sports venue. The bill is at a standstill until the general assembly returns for the lame duck session in January.

After years of planning, Rockford will have to wait even longer before residents see a new 150,000 square foot sports complex. The reclaiming first project won't begin until lawmakers pass a bill to fund the project. That bill will allow Winnebago County to raise the hotel tax. Rockford Park District Commissioner, Jack Armstrong says he wants to know why plans have come to a halt.

"All of a sudden, we're ready to present the bill and have the bill go through the legislature and it stopped,” Armstrong said.

Part of the plan includes the renovation of Rockford’s downtown Ingersoll building into an indoor sports facility. Armstrong says the entire renovation plan would bring jobs to Rockford. According to State Representative Jim Sacia, there's a reason for the wait.

"In my mind, any bill is going to have a much easier time passing in the lame duck session,” said Sacia.

Sacia says only a simple majority will be required. "I believe that's the strategy of holding this bill up until the first week and half in January.”

The General Assembly will meet January 3rd. Sacia thinks they'll take action before new members are sworn in on January 9th.

The Rockford Park District is planning for the legislation to pass, eventually. Tim Dimke tells us they have already hired an architect.

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