08/07/13 — County chooses team for library build

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County chooses team for library build

By Steve Herring
Published in News on August 7, 2013 1:46 PM

The design/build team of Smith Engineering & Design of Goldsboro/Jackson Builders of Goldsboro was selected by Wayne County commissioners Tuesday morning to build Mount Olive's new Steele Memorial Library.

The next step, according to County Manager Lee Smith, will be for officials from the team and the county to settle on actual costs, a contract and a timeline.

Commission Chairman Steve Keen said he would like to see the former Belk building renovated and opened for use by next summer.

In design/build, an architect and general contractor form a team that works under one contract with the project owner, in this case the county, providing both design and construction services.

"We encourage the design/build team, as mentioned before in the last (July 23 Facilities Committee) meeting that they do a good partnership with the Mount Olive town and the library board itself, with Donna Phillips, the (library) director and her staff," Keen said.

Keen said he wanted the design/build team to be "sensitive" to all that is to come with the design. He said that he wanted that in order to make the Mount Olive library the "diamond in the rough" that it was intended to be all along.

The Mount Olive library will be a regional learning center, Keen said.

During the public comments portion of the board session Lynn Williams, chairman of the Steele Memorial Library Steering Committee, thanked the board for its decision.

"It has been a long and interesting road to get to this point today," she said. "We are very excited to see this project move forward. We are excited to be a part of helping see this to its final conclusion."

The library is named in memory of Dr. W.C. Steele who had a vision for a public library in Mount Olive, but died before it opened in the 1930s, she said.

It was the first public library in the county, Mrs. Williams said.

Mrs. Williams said the new library would be an economic engine for the town in a variety of ways. One way is that the library plays a large part in the town's ongoing Downtown Master Study Committee planning for the downtown area, she said.

"It is a step forward in what we are doing for downtown Mount Olive," Mrs. Williams said. "It is also an economic engine in another way in terms of how we encourage literacy and how we provide space for programming in Mount Olive for people who need some honing up on their computer skills."

Libraries are "huge resources" for job searches, too, she said.

Also, the library is a way to engage young readers for a lifetime of learning, Mrs. Williams said.

"So it is a huge step forward for all of us and for southern Wayne County," she said.

The team was recommended for approval by the commissioners' Facilities Committee that met Tuesday at 7 a.m. The committee consists of Commissioners Ray Mayo, chairman, Wayne Aycock and Keen.

Aycock did not attend the meeting.

County Attorney Borden Parker said he had spoken with Aycock who had asked him to deliver sealed envelopes with his recommendation to both Mayo and Keen.

In his letter Aycock said he favored the Smith Engineering & Design/Jackson Builders team.

Keen and Mayo agreed.

The library was included in the board's capital improvement plan for 2013-14 at an estimated cost of $3.5 million. However, the commissioners' target cost of $120 per square foot equals just over $2.42 million.

The project will renovate the former Belk department store building on West Main Street to house the library. The county purchased the building in November 2008 for $400,000 from Mount Olive College.

The Steele Memorial Library Steering Committee spearheaded a grassroots fundraiser that raised more than $350,000 to pay for the design work for a project to renovate the 20,218-square-foot building.

The five of the teams that had been vying for the job said that they could complete the project within eight to 10 months once they get the go-ahead and that they could build it cheaper than the $120-per-square-foot price.