County Delays Decision on Buildings
Architects delivered more details and more analyses Monday, but the Moore County Board of Commissioners remained unwilling to make final decisions on design and placement of new buildings.
The board voted to delay a decision for two weeks on the building for detention center and public safety facilities, although the vote was not unanimous. In another vote, the board decided to halt further design work on the county office building until a decision is made on location.
Commissioner Jimmy Melton disagreed on the detention center-public safety delay and complained that the board continues to drag its feet.
"It's time for us to move forward," he said. "If we keep messing around, we won't ever do anything. Nobody knows what the future holds."
But Chairman Nick Picerno argued that a two-week delay, until the board's next regular meeting, would not cause any major problems. He said he did not question the jail needs, as to its size and design, or its location on the 21-acre tract adjacent to the existing jail.
His concern instead focused on whether there would be sufficient space for both the detention center-public safety facility and the proposed office building on that tract if, at some point in the future, the county needs to build a new court building to accommodate the growing court system.
When it came to a vote on Picerno's motion for a delay, he was joined by Commissioners Cindy Morgan and Tim Lea. Commissioner Larry Caddell voted with Melton against the delay.
During the four-hour meeting, the commissioners heard updates on both the detention center and the office building from architects from the Ware-Bonsall and LS3P Boney firms.
Ware-Bonsall architects re-viewed again the four options for the detention center, and the board reached general agreement that a two-story building would be the preferred design. The preference was a building that makes use of the existing jail facility and is designed for future expansion.
Questioned by Picerno about present-day jail needs, Chief Deputy Neil Godfrey of the Sheriff's Depart-ment said that in an average day the county jail needs beds to accommodate 130 to 140 inmates. He foresees the need for as many as 260 beds in the not-too-distant future.
A planning consultant who studied Moore County population growth two years ago predicted that the county will need a jail serving at least 600 inmates by 2030.
But questions raised about the need for a much larger building for the judicial system continued to plague some board members.
Victor Walk, the county's project director, said that the basement of the existing Courts Facility could be renovated to provide an additional two smaller courtrooms, such as the small civil courtroom and magistrate's court now on the main floor. The basement will be available for other uses once the detention center-public safety complex is occupied, because the Sheriff's Department would be moved there from the basement.
Superior Court Judge James Webb, Clerk of Court Susan Hicks and former Clerk of Court Catherine Graham have predicted that eventually the county will need a larger building to accommodate court sessions.
At a previous meeting, Lea suggested that the board examine the Carriage Oaks property as the possible site for the office building because the 21 acres downtown might not be large enough for three buildings, including a future courthouse.
Three commissioners and county officials have visited the Carriage Oaks site, and the architect, Katherine Peele of the Boney firm, has prepared an evaluation of that property as a potential site for the office building.
"We don't have all the answers," Picerno said.
Lea pointed out that the county has six months or longer to take advantage of the current economic downturn in seeking bids for the new buildings. County leaders are hoping that bids will be lower during the economic slump.
In her evaluation of Carriage Oaks, however, Peele predicted that it might cost as much as $1 million more to switch the location from the downtown site. She estimated that it would cost $240,058 for additional design and survey/study costs, to which she added $420,000 for loss of efficiency in use of the other site, to be shared by the other facility.
For example, two grading contractors might be needed, while only one would probably be needed at the other site. She also cited other savings, such as sharing entrance drives, signs and utility materials, at the downtown site.
Although the footprint of the design already prepared for the downtown site would fit into an area of Carriage Oaks, Peele said it would not be an ideal fit, because of parking lots, roads and existing commercial buildings. The proposed site at Carriage Oaks also has a steep slope that would require retaining walls, adding to the cost.
Two areas of Carriage Oaks are suitable for additional building, but one, at the rear of the property, provides less development space because of adjacent wetlands.
The county bought the Carriage Oaks property several years ago for use as facilities for the Department of Social Services (DSS). A building formerly used as a shopping center was renovated to serve the DSS, which previously had been scattered in three sites across the county.
The former shopping center building now also houses other county agencies. Elsewhere on the property is the Moore County Veterans Memorial. Carriage Oaks is located off Monroe Street and adjacent to U.S. 15-501 in Carthage.
Lea made the motion to halt further work on the office building design until a final decision is made about location and the need for a new courthouse in the future.
Contact Florence Gilkeson at 947-4962 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
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