City leaders have considered several spots to add downtown parking but decided to stick with the old jail site on Madison Street, Mayor Gary Golinski said.
The city bought the building, which hasn't been used as a jail since 1992, with state grant money in 2010. The Department of Transportation gave $96,000 to replace public parking that will be removed along Route 47 as the downtown corridor is rebuilt, while the Illinois Bureau of Tourism chipped in $64,000.
Since then, volunteers have provided some rennovations to the old jail and twice hosted haunted houses there as fundraisers for future improvements.
The plan to build a parking lot and museum there formed before Golinski became mayor, and city leaders more recently had been exploring other possible parking locations that might be closer to downtown. In the end, they decided to stick with the old jail site, Golinski said.
"Since IDOT had already put money into the purchase and engineering of the old jail site, their regulations and bureaucracy have all but made any other alternatives impossible to accomplish, even if it was going to save the state about $150,000," Golinski said. "So, the only feasible options at this point are to move forward with the lot at the old jail, or risk losing the funding."
That means selling the old jail, as Ward 1 Alderman Carlo Colosimo suggested at Tuesday's Committee of the Whole meeting, won't happen soon.
"The lot would have to be completed before we could even consider subdividing the site and selling the building," Golinski said.