County Building Panel Starts Work
At its first meeting Wednesday afternoon, the county's Major Capital Projects Task Force began the brainstorming process for three facilities that will be constructed within the next three years.
The 10 appointees began by choosing Chief Deputy Neil Godfrey of the Sheriff's Department to chair the task force.
"We all have a common objective -- to produce the best facilities for the county," Godfrey said after the meeting.
Godfrey said the meeting went well, with task force members offering a variety of ideas and opinions.
"We've got 21 acres, and we need to maximize those 21 acres," said County Commissioner Larry Caddell. "We can't just go in and create something for today. We have to plan for future needs."
County Commissioner Tim Lea added that the need is to plan also for other uses of the 21 acres in future years.
In addition to Godfrey and the two commissioners, the task force is made up of County Manager Cary McSwain, Sheriff Lane Carter, Capt Eddie Johnson, who manages the jail, Public Works Director Dennis Brobst, Public Safety Director Scot Brooks, Fire Marshal Carlton Cole and Howard Warren, a retired architect and the only noncounty official on the panel.
The county purchased 21 acres in downtown Carthage last year to expand and upgrade the detention center and to build a public safety complex and a government office building. The cost was $1.5 million. The Moore County Board of Commissioners appointed the task force to oversee the design and implementation of the plan.
Joining the task force at the meeting was Victor Walk, who will assume his duties as project manager in three weeks. Walk, who holds an architect's license in Florida, will be responsible for day-to-day oversight of these three major projects and other construction projects the county may undertake within coming years. He will work within the Department of Public Works. Walk has not begun his official duties yet and attended the meeting on his own time.
The task force discussed several options but did not adopt any one plan at the Wednesday meeting. Members will meet again later this month to pursue their options in greater depth.
Under consideration is the feasibility of combining a new detention center with the public safety facility. The debate centered on whether it would be more economical to build an entirely new jail than to renovate and expand the existing jail, located adjacent to the 21-acre tract. If that is done, then one use of the old jail could be the housing of weekend inmates, those persons convicted of misdemeanors, such as driving while impaired who serve their sentences on weekends, enabling them to work on weekdays.
Warren emphasized the need to start with a good master plan for the entire tract.
Members also discussed the need to hire more than one architect, especially for the jail design. They debated the hiring process, whether the county should simply advertise for interested firms to submit their qualifications or if the county should send formal requests for qualifications to specified firms.
No decision was made, but Brobst distributed a draft of a request for qualifications that could be considered in carrying out either of those options.
The task force was advised that it will probably take two and a half years from start to finish on the three projects. The need to work carefully but not to waste time was stressed.
Lea said it is important to understand the impact each of these projects will have on county government and the county's future.
Caddell said he was ready to get started as soon as possible. He quoted one architect as estimating that costs will climb as much as $100,000 with each moment of delay.
Brobst reminded the task force that it is not the source of final approval. Each step of the process must first win approval from the Board of Commissioners before it can be initiated.
Colin McKenzie, chairman of the Board of Commissioners, was present at the beginning of the meeting at the historic courthouse in Carthage. Mc-Kenzie welcomed the task force members and thanked them for their service.
Contact Florence Gilkeson at 947-4962 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
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