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State budget woes stall progress on 2 Springfield projects

July 13, 2015

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Renovation work at two Springfield historic sites is being affected by state budget negotiations, according to Illinois Historic Preservation Agency officials.

Work at the Old State Capitol and the Lincoln-Herndon Law Offices is on hold because bids were never awarded due to uncertainty over the state budget, said agency spokesman Chris Wills.

About $500,000 worth of exterior and interior work at the Old State Capitol was supposed to begin last year, but the project had to be rebid when three bids were rejected and a fourth came in $140,000 over available funding, the (Springfield) State Journal-Register (http://bit.ly/1Ghlytd ) reported. Bids also were accepted on a $1.1 million project to renovate the Lincoln-Herndon Law Offices.

Since the fiscal year has already begun, both projects “are now more officially on hold,” Willis said. They will have to be rebid once the new budget is in place, he said.

“There wouldn’t be any point until we know what the parameters are, whether there will be money for them,” Willis said.

City tourism officials are most concerned about the extended closure of the Lincoln-Herndon Law Offices because they believe it takes away from what visitors expect in Springfield.

“When any of our historic sites or attractions are closed, it affects the overall tourism product in Springfield,” said Gina Gemberling, executive director of the Springfield Convention and Visitors Bureau. “We promote the Lincoln-Herndon Law Office in many different ways, and visitors want to be able to experience this key part of the Lincoln story.”

The law offices were closed shortly after Labor Day to prepare for repairs, restoration, exhibit updates and other work.

“We hope the renovations will continue and the project will be able to be completed soon,” Gemberling said.

Although the Historic Preservation Agency initiated the projects, the Capital Development Board determines how they’re handled and awarded, Willis said.

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Information from: The State Journal-Register, http://www.sj-r.com

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