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updated: 7/21/2014 5:37 PM

Elgin city hall to be renamed after longtime councilman

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  • Bob Gilliam

    Bob Gilliam


The city of Elgin is planning to rename its municipal complex after its longest-serving councilman, Bob Gilliam.

Gilliam lost his re-election bid in April 2013 after serving for 40 years in Elgin. Elected in 1973, he also was the city's first African-American councilman.

The plan is to rename city hall and adjacent Civic Plaza the Robert Gilliam Municipal Complex. It will be up for review Wednesday during a public hearing and discussion by the city council's committee of the whole.

"Given the amount of time that the councilman was on the council, there was just a recognition from all his colleagues that it seemed fitting to recognize him in this fashion," Assistant City Manager Rick Kozal said.

The city's expense for the renaming would not exceed $25,000, including $20,000 for signage and $5,000 for a reception to be held sometime in September.

"There's a chance it may be less than that," Kozal said.

"We're going through and getting bids right now for the cost of signs, and whether we want to do some type of informational piece explaining why it was named the Robert Gilliam Municipal Complex."

Gilliam was not available for comment Monday.

Elgin Mayor David Kaptain said he thought of honoring his longtime colleague as soon as Gilliam lost his seat.

"I thought it was time we start to honor his service to the community," said Kaptain, who first met Gilliam when both were students at Elgin High School in the 1960s.

Kaptain said he initially thought of renaming the Eastside Recreation Center after Gilliam, then the idea of doing so for city hall took shape.

Gilliam served for more than 30 years on the board of the Housing Authority of Elgin. Last year, organization CEO Damon Duncan said the board was considering naming after Gilliam a new, yet-to-be-constructed six-story building on State Street. Duncan did not respond Monday to a request for comment.

Gilliam has always been a champion of housing, Kaptain said.

Kaptain and Gilliam first worked together in the 1980s, when Kaptain was president of the Eagle Heights homeowners association and the two supported a controversial project to create housing for people with special needs, Kaptain said.

"I think his contribution here is that he's always been the guy on the city council that put the community ahead of everything else," Kaptain said.

Last year, the city council named the city's water treatment plant after former City Manager Leo Nelson.

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