Quinn plans multimillion-dollar mansion renovation

New plans call for a multimillion dollar upgrade for the Executive Mansion in Springfield.

February 17, 2011 9:09:36 AM PST
New plans call for a multimillion dollar upgrade for the Executive Mansion in Springfield. Thirteen million dollars for mansion renovations is tucked in the list of Capital Development projects included in the newly released Illinois' Fiscal Year 2012 budget.

The line item is one of thousands of projects Governor Quinn plans to finance with bonds sold through the $31 billion Illinois Jobs Now! Capital Program.

According to the Illinois Capital Development Board, a recent site survey of the executive mansion found "a number of problems" including "life safety and environmental health issues" and leaks in the roof and façade. The Board is concerned that the leaks may be "causing interior damage and creating potential mold issues." Renovations will also fix the HVAC system and repair the mansion's windows.

Dave Blanchette, public information officer for the Illinois Capital Development Board, says the $13 million dollar project will be the first restoration since 1971. "If these repairs are not performed, the building may further deteriorate and repairs would become more expensive in the future," says Blanchette.

While Governor Pat Quinn's newly released state budget proposes slashing social services and borrowing to pay bills, the capital budget is filled with funding for projects statewide. Overall, Governor Quinn says the Illinois Jobs Now! program will create or retain more than 400,000 jobs. However, funding for the program is now in jeopardy, pending the outcome of a recent court ruling that some of the capital program's funding sources are unconstitutional.

Contacted this afternoon by ABC7, the Governor's Press Office referred all comment to the Capital Development Board. But in his budget address, Governor Quinn stressed the need for "financial stability in Illinois" saying, "our commitment to taxpayers is simple: we will only use tax dollars to provide necessary state services. All unnecessary state spending will be eliminated."

Other state sites are in line for new "Historic Preservation" funding. In addition to the multimillion dollar Executive Mansion renovation, $7 million is slated for "Repairs/Renovation/Restoring" of Lincoln related sites statewide. $3.8 million is set aside for the Old State Capitol site in Springfield. According to the budget spreadsheet, the funding will pay for renovations and to replace elevators.