SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Rachel Ventura led an initiative that will expand the permission for county boards to make county-owned property available for additional public use.

“Saving unique architectural or historic sites for the public just makes sense. Sometimes a county outgrows a building that could be leased to a private entity and still provide a valuable public use,” said Ventura (D-Joliet). “Rather than letting these historic and scenic spaces be demolished, they should be put to good use.”

Senate Bill 2651 would allow a county to maintain, restore or reuse places of architectural, historic or scenic significance and would allow them to lease or license county-held property to public or private entities for up to 99 years.

County boards currently have the authority to protect and preserve landmarks and preservation districts. However, under this legislation they would also be given authority to make landmarks available for public use. This also expands the ability to lease county property for athletic or museum use.

“We thank Senator Ventura for championing this important legislation that promotes the reinvestment in historic places across Illinois for the benefit of the public. This bill also empowers county boards to create innovative preservation strategies, including adaptive reuse, sparking community and economic development and enhancing access to our state’s landmarks," said Quinn Adamowski, Regional Advocacy Manager at Landmarks Illinois. "If enacted, counties will face less barriers to preservation and more people will be able to access and enjoy the places that help tell our collective history.”

Senate Bill 2651 passed the full Senate on Thursday and now heads to the House for further consideration.