Cook County delays $34 million fix to records warehouse

Clout Street

Cook County officials will hold off on asking county commissioners to support a $34 million upgrade to an aging West Side warehouse used to store court records and voting equipment.

Instead, they will study how best to handle the mountains of paper various county departments are required to hold onto for decades or longer, according to John Cooke, the county’s director of capital planning.

On Monday, Cooke withdrew the request for money to build out the Hawthorne warehouse in North Lawndale, a project that had drawn complaints from some commissioners who said it doesn’t make sense to keep dumping money into the facility.

Cooke said the county may ask state lawmakers to reduce the amount of time the county has to keep some kinds of court records, which take up much of the space in the 475,000 square-foot warehouse.

Circuit Court Clerk Dorothy Brown had hoped to staff the warehouse with around 100 employees dedicated to record storage. Cooke said County Board President Toni Preckwinkle’s staff will work with Brown to “evaluate a better record storage program for the county.”

The county has already spent more than $18 million buying and repairing the warehouse, Cooke said.

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