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HC Commissioners approve assessment

WINTON – The next step has finally been taken in the process of getting a new courthouse built in Hertford County.

County Manager Loria Williams presented two alternate needs assessment study proposals to the board during the regular bimonthly meeting of the Hertford County Commissioners Monday night.

There was a wide gap between the two proposals, with one company offering to conduct the study for $6,100 and the other projecting a cost of $38,000.

After being questioned by Commissioner Dupont Davis, Williams explained that such a study was necessary in order to have an experienced firm coordinate the needs of the various agencies that are routinely involved in courthouse business.

“Why do we even need this? Why can’t we just do it ourselves?” Davis inquired.

After Williams’ reply, Commissioner Johnnie Farmer added, “I understand Commissioner Davis’ concerns because we still have drawings over there of a proposed courthouse from 10 years ago just collecting dust, but I also know that we do need a third eye on this project to coordinate everyone’s vision of what they want and need.”

Regarding the $6,100 proposal from Ware Bonsall Architects out of Charlotte, Williams said that firm’s services would be very similar to those in the much higher $38,000 proposal from Moseley Architects.

The main difference between the two lies in the ending year for the projected growth and needs analysis portion of the study she said.

Ware’s proposal only extends to 2020 while Moseley’s would continue to project in five-year increments until 2035.

After much discussion, the board voted unanimously to accept Ware’s bid, citing economic reasons.

“With a $32,000 difference, and we’re a small county, we just can’t afford to be doing something that much higher,” said Commissioner John Pierce.

Williams pointed out that hiring Ware to do the needs assessment study does not mean the county is obligated to hire the company for the actual construction.

“That’s completely different… and we’re nowhere near awarding a (construction) contract yet,” she noted.