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New library: Next phase begins

GATESVILLE – The next phase of the new public library planned for Gates County will begin, but not without opposition.

By a 3-2 vote at their scheduled meeting here Oct. 5, the Gates County Board of Commissioners opted to accept a contract from LS3P, the architects for the library, for the completion of design and construction for the new facility. The fee of $96,000 continues the company’s schematic design services ($19,200), taking the project through full construction documents, to include permits and approvals ($36,000), the bidding process ($6,000), construction contract administration ($30,000) and project close-out ($4,800).

The overall contract, which now totals $159,644.23, calls for the construction project and close-out to be completed within an 18-month period.

To date, Gates County officials have spent $58,974.23 for LS3P services in phase one of the contract. That includes $15,000 for site evaluation, $42,030 for preliminary design and $1,944.23 for reimbursable expenses (travel, maps, charts/graphs used during presentations, and meetings with the commissioners and library board).

Phase one of the contract totals $63,644.23. That figure is less than the $72,650 originally negotiated between county officials and LS3P.

Prior to the vote, Commissioner Henry Jordan said he had several concerns with the contract, including the lack of addressing landscaping issues and confusing wording over the architect’s control of the contractor hired to perform the work.

“There are two paragraphs in this contract that totally contradict each other,” Jordan said.

Gatesville attorney Pitt Godwin, who serves as legal counsel to the commissioners, said if any board member had concerns over the wording of the contract to write them down.

“If any commissioner has problems with the contract the way it is written now, we’ll be glad to go back and renegotiate the contract or make them aware of those concerns,” Godwin said.

“I have a problem with the price and I don’t think we need a middle man,” Commissioner John Hora said. “We are not building a sophisticated piece of manufacturing equipment that has specifications. This is a building. It’s not a complex thing to do. The state statute says it can be an architect or an engineer (to design a public building). An engineer can perform this function very easily.”

He continued, “Why do we need to go and spend this kind of money. This will commit us to $150,000 to $160,000 before we do anything, drive one nail, lay any cement or move any dirt. Does that make sense? I don’t think it does.”

Hora said LS3P were “middle men.”

“There are design-build people like I presented last time (at the board’s Sept. 19 meeting),” Hora noted. “They have their own architects and engineers. The (state) General Statutes says you don’t have to have very detailed drawings at a certain point. You only have to have them when you go see the building permit man.

“I think we can do better, as a matter of fact I know we can do better,” Hora added. “I don’t want to waste taxpayer’s money; we’ve wasted enough as it is. We can take a different approach.”

Commissioner Jack Owens said governmental buildings are constructed every day and those government entities follow certain procedures during design and construction projects.

“There’s substantial reasons why you do that,” Owens said. “There are statutes in place that require governmental agencies to do certain things in certain ways. They are there to protect the citizens, they are there to protect the project and make sure it’s done properly. By approving this contact we are agreeing to certain things. This is the beginning part to where the bids go out. We don’t have a dollar figure on this.”

“I think everybody up here has come to the conclusion that we need a library,” Commission Vice Chairman Kenneth Jernigan said. “I’m sure this contract meets all specifications. I feel it’s a good contract.”

“I think it’s premature to move forward with this contract,” Jordan said. “We have solicited requests for qualifications for the renovation of the old courthouse. I think the old courthouse should be considered in this equation of how we’re going to move forward on the library. I’m all for the new library and what’s best for our citizens. I do want to make sure that we spend our money wisely.”

He continued, “It seems to me the best approach is we have the requests for qualifications to renovate the old courthouse. Let’s wait, select the engineer and let’s see what is the feasibility of keeping the library in the old courthouse. Let’s compare that to the $1.5 million we’re proposing to build the new library. If we can renovate the old courthouse for $1.5 million then we’ve made money. I don’t want to see us spend double monies so let’s hold off the LS3P contract until we see what the cost is to renovate the old courthouse.”

Hora motioned to postpone the LS3P contract until other data is revealed on the renovation of the old courthouse. Jordan offered a second. That motion was defeated, 3-2, with Hora and Jordan voting in favor and Owens, Jernigan and Commission Chairman Graham Twine in opposition.

Owens then motioned for the approval of the LS3P contract. Jernigan seconded the motion, which was approved, 3-2, with Owens, Jernigan and Twine in favor and Hora and Jordan against.

The board, in a similar 3-2 vote, approved a budget amendment to move the money from fund balance to pay for the LS3P services.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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