Historic sites in jeopardy without budget approval

By Alex Davis | adavis@wcia.com

Published 04/14 2014 12:02PM

Updated 04/14 2014 12:07PM

SPRINGFIELD -- The state is threatening some of its historic sites. Preservationists say, the key to saving them is the governor's budget proposal. WCIA-3's Alex Davis finds out what it could mean for the area.

John Griffin has visited several state historic sites in his day.

"Here and there, and the State Capitol. Been out to the cemetery."

Just like many people though, he says he'd feel a sense of loss if he showed up to a site and were greeted by locked doors.

"Because people won't get to see them."

There are 56 Illinois'-owned historic sites in the state; 18 in the central region; 7 in Springfield alone. Anyone who's been to the Capitol City knows how much the sites mean to the community.

"I think everybody gets shortchanged. This is part of the town, the history of the city here. Also, it brings money in when people want to go see them."

Chris Wills, who works with the Historic Preservation Agency, says closing just one site, anywhere, would be a loss.

"We have history all over. It affects a lot of people."

So, he's fighting to keep "doomsday" from happening, urging lawmakers to take up Governor Pat Quinn's budget proposal which, he claims, would keep his agency running smoothly.

"Our focus is on getting the legislature and taxpayers and the general public to understand, that there is a budget on the table that would prevent any cuts. That, if the governor's budget is followed, all our historic sites, all of our many services would be able to operate intact."

But, Wills warns, if they don't take it up, some 26 sites could suffer, jobs could be cut, hours reduced or sites closed.

"If a site closes, there would be the risk that it might never reopen."

It's something folks like Griffin say would be a tragedy for Illinois.

"Well, I think everybody gets shortchanged."

Wills says his agency would be reduced to 1986 funding levels if Quinn's budget doesn't pass.

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