05/26/13 — County approves funds for library planning

View Archive

County approves funds for library planning

By Steve Herring
Published in News on May 26, 2013 1:50 AM

A $35,000 budget amendment for the Mount Olive Steele Memorial Library project Tuesday morning was unanimously approved by Wayne County commissioners.

The project was not on the board's agenda, but was added under unfinished business.

Earlier this month commissioners agreed to pay the $35,000 to RATIO Architects to terminate the county's contract with the firm, which designed the Mount Olive project.

The earlier vote included a caveat that the Steele Memorial Library Steering Committee, which has raised more than $350,000 for the project, provide the $35,000. The group agreed.

Another part of the vote was that the county would utilize the design/build approach to construct the library.

In design/build, an architect/engineer teams with a contractor to design and to build a project. The project owner, in this case the county, has a more active role in the process.

A new design plan will not be required -- the winning design/build team would still be able to use the RATIO plans.

"We have not yet received the $35,000," county public information officer Barbara Arntsen said after the meeting. "The county always pays the bill first. That's why we had the budget amendment -- so we could pay it, and then (the county) finance (department) bills the Friends of the Library. So, the county will show the Friends that the bill has been paid and the Friends will then reimburse the county."

It is actually the Steele Memorial Library Steering Committee that has the money and that will pay the $35,000, not the Friends of Steele Memorial Library.

"We know that we cannot go out for bids on the library until this is settled and we have the engineering stamp on the drawings that is necessary to go out for bids," Commissioner Ray Mayo said during the Tuesday meeting.

Mayo, chairman of the county's Facilities Committee, asked County Attorney Borden Parker to provide updates on the county's status on that process.

"After your last meeting, I contacted RATIO Architects and got a letter, an agreement, saying the contract could be terminated upon us paying $35,000," Parker said. "You have a budget amendment that is being walked on (to the agenda) today so that we can get that money so that we can send that check out today or tomorrow morning depending on how fast it can be written, if you approve the budget amendment.

"When that is done, we should have all of the plans given to us. Then we will be ready to proceed with the design/build."

Mayo said an information session should be held at some point with County Manager Lee Smith as to what design/build is "all about."

"A lot of people in Wayne County, and a lot of us, don't know much about design/build," Mayo said. "So I think it would be good to have a time we can get together with ones who are interested and see how that works and how we can proceed forward. But in either case, until we get the engineering stamp on the drawings, we can't go out for bids. Is that right Mr. Attorney?"

"Well, what you have to do is have something to show the people who are going to make the (design/build) team what you want," Parker said. "They will have to themselves, probably whoever is the design part of the design/build team, would probably modify what you are having. To some extent it will be their stamp."

Wayne County has its own local legislation that allows it to utilize design/build, Parker said.

Legislation has passed one General Assembly chamber to allow its use statewide and setting out all of the specifics that are not in the county's local bill, he said.

Parker said he had provided a copy of the specifications to Noelle Woods, the county's purchasing manager.

"I want to thank the attorney and county manager (Lee Smith) for their leadership," said Commissioner Ed Cromartie of Mount Olive. "You are right Mr. Mayo, it is a new term for us. It sounds right now like the expertise is right there at (Parker and Smith's) table."

Cromartie said he made his comments because people in Mount Olive are keeping up with the project.

They need to be reassured that the county is moving forward on the library, he said.

Commissioners have not set a firm timetable as to when the project, which has languished for years, might finally get under way.