The majority of the Douglas County Board of Commissioners wants to use eminent domain and obtain a building at 18th and Harney Street downtown Omaha to build a courthouse annex, a new juvenile justice center and a parking garage. Commissioner James Cavanaugh opposes the plan. He says others in the community are against it as well.
This week the Omaha City Planning Board voted to recommend to the City Council the building be declared a local landmark.
Cavanaugh says, “I think that is a significant move and it reflects the growing public concern over this proposal. Support on the board has doubled. We are hopeful the forces of reason will rule out here.”
Cavanaugh says eminent domain is not necessary and the county doesn’t need to take private property for these projects. He says those projects can be completed on property they already own. He says, “There is growing opposition to the huge tax increase proposal that is being pushed forward and there alternatives that are better, cheaper and smarter. We made a proposal to the board on refurbishing the youth center which is less than half the cost of building a cell block downtown on the private property they want to take.”
The issue is on pause right now due as restraining order. The owner of the building has plans to refurbish it to include retail and apartment space. The 4 story structure was built in 1920.
Cavanaugh says they are also pushing a vote for the people on this issue as it would raise taxes and they should have a say.