04/12/13 — County will bid library project

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County will bid library project

By Steve Herring
Published in News on April 12, 2013 1:46 PM

The Wayne County Commission Facilities Committee Thursday morning unanimously voted to recommend that the full commission proceed with bid letting within the next 30 to 45 days for a new Steele Memorial Library in Mount Olive.

Committee member and commission Chairman Steve Keen, who made the motion, said he would like to get everything done to be able to have the project out to bid within that time.

"Do you think we could get a return in 30 days as to what it will cost us to build this?" Keen said.

County Facilities Director Milford Smith said he thought it would be possible if the county acted on it "right away."

"At least a base bid like we did at the Senior Center," he said.

Noelle Woods, county purchasing manager, said a 30-day timetable could be difficult to reach since the county is in the middle of budget work. However, she said her office would do its best to reach that goal.

Keen and Commissioners Ray Mayo, who is also committee chairman, and Wayne Aycock voted for the motion to recommend that commissioners act on the bid letting when they meet on April 16.

The action comes just a week after commissioners were called on the carpet by state Sen. Louis Pate of Mount Olive for not moving on the county's promise to build the library.

He also chided the board for the county's failure to secure the building from the elements by not repairing felt that had blown off the top of the roof of the old Belk's department store building where the library will be located.

A work crew repaired the roof Wednesday.

During Thursday's three-hour meeting, County Manager Lee Smith and Facilities Director Milford Smith suggested the county utilize design-build for the project.

The newest project estimate by JLT Consulting of Snow Hill projects a cost of $145 per square foot. The plan recommended Thursday is based on $120 per square foot.

Members of the committee used comparisons of construction price per foot in the area to develop the per square foot target price, Lee Smith said after the meeting.

Committee members are hopeful the use of design-build, utilizing the existing schematics for the plans, will help save money on the project.

The estimated savings of nearly $500,000 would pay for the furniture and equipment, Lee Smith said.

"We think that is reasonable," he said. "Design-build, like the Senior Center, is a little different process. It is more than just taking a set of plans and/or getting it engineered and put it out and 'give us a price and build.' What you do is actually put out some ideas of design.

"We have to have at least three teams to bid. What you would have is teams of architects and engineers, contractors who would come in and bid on the project, working with the owner, that of course being the county, to develop and look at all of the aspects of the facility from electrical and plumbing and even design to look at how you do that to get the most bang for your buck. That is your $120 target."

The county would be at the table for every decision to keep a project under budget, he said.

Keen noted that the Friends of Steele Memorial Library had raised $350,000 for design, approximately $250,000 of which has been spent.

Using the existing design would avoid duplicating the design process, Keen said.

The building's 22,000 square feet at $120 per square foot equals $2,640,000, he said.

The cost does not include the parking lot diagonally across the street from the building, Lee Smith said.

Keen asked how much it would cost to improve the parking lot to include lighting. About $35,000, Smith said.

The town has been asked about joining with the county in that cost since it would benefit the town, Smith said. For example, the parking lot will be used during the upcoming N.C. Pickle Festival.

Mayo said it was important to point out that the figure is for the building only and does not include the cost, about $500,000, for furniture and equipment.

Nor does it include the additional annual operational costs that will be required, Smith said. That will be an estimated minimum of $50,000 annually.

Smith was asked if Mount Olive was contributing anything to the cost of the existing library.

The town does help with security and some of the utilities, he said.

A $3.5 million budget amendment for the project was approved by commissioners in June 2012 with the hope of having the project ready to bid in July and possibly awarded in October 2012.

However, little else has been done since that time. The lack of action has worried library supporters. Also, rumors surfaced that the county wanted to scale back the project.

Mount Olive officials and commissioners have said that is not the case and that the library remains a top priority for the county.