Aldermen vote down sinkhole settlement, plan to raze former RPS headquarters moves forward

The former District 205 Administration Building, at 201 S. Madison was built in 1885 as Rockford High School.
The former District 205 Administration Building, at 201 S. Madison St., was built in 1885 as Rockford High School.

By Jim Hagerty
Staff Writer

A Rockford woman will not receive a $600,000 settlement for injuring her leg in a sinkhole accident almost five years ago, according to a vote by the Rockford City Council Monday, Feb. 24.

The suit was filed by the law firm McCloskey and Associates on behalf of Jane Meade. Meade claims she was walking in the grass near El Paso Circle in May 2009 when the ground buckled, causing her left leg to become lodged in a sinkhole.

According to reports, sharp pieces of concrete gashed Meade’s leg, causing irreparable muscle and tissue damage.  The complaint also alleges the city was alerted of the sinkhole at least a week before Meade’s injury yet failed to repair it.

Meade, who walks with a permanent limp, amassed more than $50,000 in medical bills.

Aldermen voted 7-5 against the out-of-court settlement. The measure may be back in front of the council again at a future meeting.

In other business, a Rockford City Council committee and Rockford Public School District 205 have reached an agreement to demolish the school district’s former Administration Building at 201 S. Madison St.

According to the agreement, the district would raze the 129-year-old building and give the land to the city. The property would be turned into a parking lot for the proposed downtown sports complex. In exchange, the city would pay for new sidewalks at Froberg Elementary School, tear down six vacant houses near East High and plant $30,000 worth of trees on RPS property. The city will also give the district 500 tons of road salt as part of the deal.

Leaders hope to have the Madison Street building torn down within the next six months. The cost is estimated at $725,000. The agreement is pending approval by the Rockford City Council and Board of Education.

Aldermen also voted Monday to make Auburn Street, from Day to Kilburn avenues, the city’s 33rd TIF district. The deal will give property owners 23 years to redevelop the area. While the district is one of Rockford’s most distressed areas, it is home to the former Amerock building at 4000 Auburn St. Once a 1 million-square-foot manufacturing plant, more than half of the facility has been torn down. What remains, however, is expected to anchor the TIF district by housing a number of new businesses.

The vote was 12-0 in favor of the Auburn Street TIF.

The Rockford City Council meets every Monday at City Hall.

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