04/17/13 — County leaders consider capital projects

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County leaders consider capital projects

By Steve Herring
Published in News on April 17, 2013 1:46 PM

Wayne County Commissioner Ray Mayo Tuesday afternoon appeared to back pedal somewhat from action taken last week by the county's Facilities Committee asking commissioners to proceed with bid-letting within the next 30 to 45 days for a new Steele Memorial Library in Mount Olive.

The three-member committee, chaired by Mayo, last Thursday approved a motion by member and commission Chairman Steve Keen to recommend that action when the board met Tuesday.

The library was the top item on a list of more $30 million in possible county building and renovation projects that Mayo presented to the board Tuesday. The list, he said, was not in any particular order.

"That (library) is a priority," he said. "It has been on the forefront for several months. Before we do anything with that item I would like to make a motion on just the Steele Memorial Library.

"I make a motion that we move to have staff report at the next board of commissioners' meeting as to how and when the Steele Memorial Library renovation project can be started and completed."

The motion was approved unanimously.

At the Facilities Committee meeting last week, Keen asked Facilities Director Milford Smith if it would be possible to meet the 30-to-45-day schedule. It would, Smith said, if the county acted on it "right away."

The committee's vote to proceed came just a week after commissioners were chastised by state Sen. Louis Pate of Mount Olive for not moving quicker on the county's promise to build the library.

Milford Smith and County Manager Lee Smith have suggested that the county utilize design-build for the library project. In design-build, teams of architects, engineers, contractors would bid on the project and would use the existing plans. The winning team would work with the county to develop and look at all of the aspects of the facility.

The newest project estimate projects a cost of $145 per square foot. However, the Facilities Committee has set a target of $120 per square foot for a project cost of $2.640 million. Another $500,000 would be needed for furniture and equipment.

The county would use the already completed design plans that were paid for by the Friends of Steele Memorial Library that raised more than $350,000 for the project.

Commissioners in 2012 approved a $3.5 million budget amendment for the project. At the time the idea was to have it ready to bid in July 2012 and possibly awarded in October 2012. However, little has been done since that time.

Also Tuesday, commissioners briefly discussed a possible northern central library. No costs estimates or location have been determined.

The Facilities Committee has suggested reviewing possible partnerships with the Wayne County Public Schools as well as other alternatives.

The committee also advised commissioners to hold off on any plans for a new jail in light of state budget cuts that could close the Wayne Correctional Center near Cherry Hospital. Should that happen, the county could possibly convince the state to convey the property to the county to be renovated as a 427-bed jail. That, commissioners said, could save the county millions of dollars.