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BELLEVILLE, Ill. — The former Belleville West high school that became the Lindenwood University campus at 2300 West Main is looking like it’s going to have new life.

The Belleville City Council held a special meeting Monday night to discuss use for the site, which has sat vacant for the last two years.

For Belleville residents, this is big news for a major part of this West End of town. Among the groups that would be using the space include Southwestern Illinois College, the Illinois State Police (ISP), the Southern Illinois Law Enforcement Commission, and the Southwestern Illinois Jets’ Basketball Club.

The Illinois State Police will be using about 4416 square feet of the main building campus for forensic laboratory and classroom space. ISP is anticipated to pay approximately $68,000 for the space, with a 2% annual increase during its five-year term. There is an opportunity for ISP to use more space and continue its term in the future.

The Southern Illinois Law Enforcement Commission (SILEC) will use its 1,650 square-foot space for education and office use. The commission signed a 10-year term for approximately $25,000 a year and has paid its lease entirely in advance for a total of $250,000.

“We needed more space, and this was the perfect opportunity to make this a law enforcement training mecca in the Metro East and in Belleville,” said David Hayes with SILEC said after Monday night’s special city council meeting in Belleville.

Southwestern Illinois Jets Basketball Club will use its gym and facility space, non-exclusively, to house its basketball club. This includes the use of offices, locker rooms. When it’s not in use by the Jets program, the city will be able to use the gym for events. The Jets Basketball Club will pay $75,000/year during its five-year team and has a five-year renewal option. There is also a 1% increase each year.

“It’s a dream come true today Patty that we actually got a place to call home,” said Steve Lanter with the Jets Basketball Program.

Southwestern Illinois College (SWIC) will operate staffing of operations and management on campus for a 10-year-term. The police academy from Southwestern Illinois College will also use classroom, fitness, and dorm space. The exact details of monetary agreements have not been decided yet.

“When you consider the SWIC police academy, SILEC, and the ISP all at one location,” Van Muschler, the director of SWIC Police Academy said. “There’s no question in my mind…this will be the largest law enforcement training in the state.”

Belleville Mayor Patty Gregory said there is still space available on campus, and they are welcoming more organizations but want to make sure it stays within the same realm of the groups already there.

“We hope to make it a full campus for a forensic training institute, public safety, and a possibility of bringing in more of a justice center also,” Mayor Gregory said.

She also said they are going to change the name of the arena and campus but have not decided on a name yet.  At a time when many businesses are shutting their doors and closing in-person operations, the City of Belleville has filled empty space.

The site which dates to 1916 was the original Belleville Township School until 1966 when it became Belleville West High School, and the new Belleville East High School was completed.

In 2003, a new Belleville West High School opened, and Lindenwood University bought the massive brick complex from the city of Belleville for $1.

Over the next 17 years, Lindenwood helped to develop the site as well as this portion of the West End of Belleville but pulled out in 2020, saying they had been losing money at the location. The city reportedly bought the complex in august for $3 million.