Bids coming for work on new center
By Steve Herring
Published in News on November 21, 2011 1:46 PM
Bids are expected to be ready to be let out by the end of the year for Wayne County's renovation of the former Sportsman's World building on Ash Street.
The project, expected to cost about $1 million, will convert the vacant building into a new home for Wayne County Services on Aging and its Senior Center.
Construction is expected to take about nine months and the move from the smaller downtown center could take place by next fall, county officials estimate.
The move will create nearly twice the floor space of the existing center -- from 10,000 to 19,000 square feet -- and will provide a more-than-80-space parking lot instead of the limited on-street parking now available downtown.
There also is a building next door that holds potential for future expansion, said Sue Farmer, Wayne County facilities director.
Ms. Farmer and County Manager Lee Smith met last week with Services on Aging staff and the people who use the center to update them on the project.
The design work for the project has primarily been done in-house, Ms. Farmer said.
"What has been done thus far, I have done most of it," she said. "We did have to hire an outside engineer to do the site work that has been done."
An engineer also will be hired to handle the work needed on the building's mechanical systems, she said. The engineer has not yet been hired, and Ms. Farmer said she hopes the job will go to a local company.
County commissioners bought Sportsman's World and two adjacent buildings in May for nearly $1.5 million to replace the new Services on Aging that currently shares a former bank building with the Day Reporting Center on South John Street.
The county will pay cash for the buildings and renovations.
Only the Sportsman's World building will be occupied initially, county officials said. Nash Printing and Wayne Pregnancy Center occupy the other two buildings and will pay the county rent.
Plans to start the project this fall failed to materialize. Ms. Farmer said the county wants to be sure that the construction is well thought out before work begins.
"We want to do the project and do it right," Ms. Farmer said. "Past experience has taught us a lot. There is a lot of enthusiasm in the community about this project. We did not want to approach it half-prepared. We really wanted to make sure that when we walk in the door when this new center opens that it is right, it is state-of-the-art and that it is going to meet the needs of the program and the volume of people that are going to use it."
The structure itself is in "great" shape, she said. It is the internal mechanical systems that the county wants to update to avoid any problems.
"It is really good to change the wallpaper and paint and make everything look good, but if you have bad wiring in there, you really haven't accomplished anything," Ms. Farmer said. "When we bought the property, we had some pretty high expectations and hoped that this would be something that we could utilize a lot in the state that it was in and go forth and get in and out very quickly.
"But in hindsight, and in looking at the needs for a future facility and doing it right and the way that it should be, it became very clear very quickly upfront from my perspective that we really needed to do some more research on the environmental system end of things."
That will include changes to the building's plumbing because of some restroom needs for the center, she said.
The electrical system is outdated, she added, and with all of the new technology available, the county wants to ensure that the building has enough power for the needs and demands of the center as well as heating and air conditioning systems, Ms. Farmer said.
The building also has to meet the requirements of the Americans With Disabilities Act.
"We have to meet current code. We have got to do safety things like put up sprinklers in the building and that type thing. So all of these things that we kind of take for granted, that because of the age of the building weren't there, and we have to put them in place."
Some of that is being driven by the program demands, expansion of services and an increase in the number of people in the new site versus the existing one, she said. Also, there is a possibility the center could be used as well as a one-stop voting site.
Changes were needed in the parking lot to accommodate GATEWAY buses. A commercial-grade kitchen will be installed as well.
The area will also have to be rezoned by the city.
"Those things take a little time and it pushes it back, but we have the planning work ready and now we are ready to move forward," Ms. Farmer said.