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Woodstock establishes Old Courthouse and Sheriff's House advisory commission

WOODSTOCK – The Woodstock City Council has established an Old Courthouse and Sheriff’s House advisory commission, as recommended by a technical assistance panel report. Since the city acquired ownership of the Old Courthouse and Sheriff’s House in 2011, it has been looking for ways to stabilize the building and turn it over for private redevelopment.

According to the ordinance, commission members should have a “sincere, motivated interest” in identifying the best use for the building, and have knowledge in areas including economic development, historic preservation, and experience with fundraising and community outreach.

“I view this as a means to manage the business, manage the affairs of the Courthouse, to implement the recommendations of the TAP, but it’s also to move this to a conclusion,” council member Mike Turner said at the City Council meeting Tuesday.

The commission will be made up of eight members and one chairperson who will be appointed by the mayor with the advice and consent of the City Council. The commission will serve as an advisory capacity to the City Council, and it will meet at least quarterly. Turner and council member Maureen Larson expressed concerns with meeting quarterly, but the council determined it would set the expectation that the commission meet more often.

“It needs a thoughtful solution, not a rushed one,” Turner said of changes to the Old Courthouse and Sheriff’s House. “But I still believe that time is of the essence with this because it is using TIF dollars ... (and) it’s a linchpin of our downtown.”

The Urban Land Institute of Chicago created the TAP report after spending two days in Woodstock in March interviewing community leaders and gathering information on the properties. A panel from the institute then presented its ideas in April, which included making the Old Courthouse home to a higher education institution and the Sheriff’s House a restaurant.

At its meeting Tuesday, the council also discussed, but did not take any action on, a review of completed and future projects for the Old Courthouse, and discussed what its members would like to see in an executive director and building manager for the Old Courthouse.

Mayor Brian Sager said as far as projects go for the Old Courthouse and Sheriff’s House, repairing the windows and stabilizing the exterior of the building should be priorities.

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