FREEPORT (WIFR) -- The old City Hall building in Freeport remains empty while the city council mulls over several options for the space, however, one recent proposal isn't sitting well with some Freeport neighbors.
Freeport Mayor Jim Gitz says he was approached with an offer to buy the building on 524 West Stephenson Street where the city is currently paying rent. The owner has offered to sell the space to the city for $3.4 million. Mayor Gitz says that offer hasn't been accepted, it's just one of several options he's shown to the city council. One idea is to turn Freeport’s old Carnegie Library into the city hall. Another option is to renovate the century old City Hall; that could cost more than $4.5 million. Some neighbors say they think that would be a worthwhile investment.
Freeport moved operations out of the old City Hall in 2011 because of the building's structural issues. Mayor Gitz says the building has been deemed structurally sound, and now it's up to the council to decide its future.
"Even if it costs more than building a new building or buying a new building, I think to have that building restored, it’s a must. It’s a historical building and it’s a central artery of downtown,” says Freeport native Craig Deininger.
"It doesn’t make sense to have buildings that are mothballed and then you continue to rent or you purchase yet another building. These things have to be worked out but it’s going to take some time. This is not city hall at any cost; this is city hall at a reasonable cost after we’ve looked at all alternatives," says Freeport Mayor Jim Gitz.
For more on the options for city hall: http://www.cityoffreeport.org/OrdRes/City%20of%20Freeport%20City%20Hall%20Costs.pdf