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Preservationist asks Yorkville to keep old county jail

Updated: November 1, 2012 6:27AM

YORKVILLE — An area preservationist has asked the city to delay selling the Old Kendall County Jail building.

Stephanie Todd of Oswego told the City Council that selling the property quickly will hurt chances of saving the Old Jail as a museum.

“Why now?” she said. “Is there some emergency that you need to sell it now? This Old Jail isn’t costing taxpayers one red cent. How many people have ever come to you to ask you to save a building?”

Two weeks ago, aldermen voted to take requests for proposals for the property until Oct. 23, with the council opening the proposals at its meeting that night.

City officials have said there is some interest from a private entity in buying the Old Jail property. City officials have shown interested buyers around the property, which Todd referred to as “underhanded.”

She said with the city showing potential buyers around, it has scared volunteers who were fixing up the old property with the intent of eventually turning it into a museum.

“After the word got out the city was looking to sell, the volunteers quit, the donations dried up,” she said.

Todd is asking the city to hold it for seven years to give organizers a chance to develop a museum.

She said eventually putting the building into private hands is not necessarily a bad idea.

“I am not opposed to selling this to the right buyer,” she said.

Alderman Carlo Colosimo, 2nd Ward, blanched at Todd’s labeling the city’s efforts as underhanded.

“Everything we’ve done is according to the rules and open,” he said.

The city bought the old jail, at 111 W. Madison St. from Kendall County in 2010 for $160,000.

It was purchased with a combination of $96,000 from the Illinois Department of Transportation, and $64,000 from the state Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity. The latter was specifically a tourism grant because the intent at the time was to turn the old jail into a living or interactive museum.

The $64,000 tourism grant might have to be returned, because it was specifically for tourism land acquisition, according to City Administrator Bart Olson.

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