STATE OF NORTH CAROLINA BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS
COUNTY OF HENDERSON SEPTEMBER 21, 2001
The Henderson County Board of Commissioners met for a special called meeting at 12:00 noon in the Commissioners' Conference Room of the Henderson County Office Building.
Those present were: Chairman Bill Moyer, Vice-Chair Marilyn Gordon, Commissioner Grady Hawkins, Commissioner Don Ward, Commissioner Charlie Messer, County Manager David E. Nicholson, County Attorney Angela S. Beeker, and Clerk to the Board Elizabeth W. Corn.
Also present were: Public Information Officer Chris S. Coulson, Finance Directory J. Carey McLelland, Project Coordinator/Risk Management Director Bill Byrnes, Assistant to the County Manager/Budget Analyst Selena Coffey, Assistant County Attorney Jennifer O. Jackson, Public Health Director Tom Bridges and his Administrative Assistant Stephanie King. Present from the Architectural firm of Freeman-White was Moshen Ghoreishi.
CALL TO ORDER/WELCOME
Chairman Moyer called the meeting to order at approximately 12:12 p.m and welcomed all in attendance. The purpose of this meeting was a Facilities and Financing Workshop for discussion of our facilities and major projects.
David Nicholson formally introduced Moshen Ghoreishi with Freeman-White. Moshen is Director of Civic Architecture with the firm. He has been working with Staff for some time on these projects. Mr. Nicholson stated that we have contracts with Freeman-White to do the architectural work on both the Historic Courthouse and the Human Service Building. We have had the contract on the Historic Courthouse for several years. We tried to renovate that facility in the 1990s but were unsuccessful in getting that project done at that time due to some school needs and jail needs. The contract was redone recently and work began again on that project.
The first thing that needs to take place is removal of the old jail located behind the historic courthouse. In this year=s budget is $150,000 toward demolition of that building. Staff has been working with an engineer that Freeman-White introduced us to, to deal with looking at the building to see what should be done. This building abuts the courthouse annex where our Budget and Finance Department is currently located. They don=t share the same wall but share the same outside wall. The annex was built up against the jail and then they put up an inside wall. The engineer has looked at the foundation, the walls, and the needs. Mr. Nicholson stated that as part of this same demolition project he asked for prices on putting up a new wall since it is a shared wall. It is an inexpensive wall to build, being a stucco system wall. Mr. Nicholson stated that the demolition will cost approximately $90,000 and the new wall will cost approximately $50,000. This will fall within the amount of money budgeted in this year. Mr. Nicholson asked the Board for permission to get the bid specifications together for tearing the building down and putting a new wall up as one contract.
Commissioner Hawkins felt very strongly that in view of all the things that have happened in our nation in the last two weeks, that we cannot predict what financial burdens will be placed on the County before this is over and felt that the Board should not move ahead with this project at this time. He stated that there are other priorities at this time. We don=t yet have a State Budget. He questioned the Sheriff=s need for the entire building at 100 N. King Street and the situation with the City of Hendersonville regarding a possible parking garage associated with the Historic Courthouse. He stated that this was a financial burden that should not be placed on the citizens at this time. He did feel that the Board should proceed with the Human Services Building.
Commissioner Hawkins stated that he had not seen the figures from the Sheriff on what his space needs were.
Chairman Moyer reminded Commissioner Hawkins that the Board had reviewed the Sheriff=s needs a couple of years ago when Commissioner Hawkins was Chairman. He read some excerpts from the minutes of March 10, 2000 where the Sheriff had stated that he could fit his operation into the entire 100 N. King Street facility and have at least five year=s growth as well as providing proximity to both the new Courthouse and the new Law Enforcement Center.
Commissioner Hawkins argued that was when the County was considering AOne Stop Shopping@ in the Carolina Apparel Building and that concept is no longer being considered.
There was some disagreement of opinions and Commissioner Gordon asked to be able to present her views as others calm down. She stated that the funds are in this year=s budget and the old jail and the new wall need to be done whether or not the Board decides to do anything else. She is in favor of proceeding with going out to bid on this project, stating that after the initial shock wore off about our Country=s Attack we need to show faith in our community, our country, and our government. She stated that the Board needs to be prudent, cautious, but needs to keep moving forward. The Board is not approving financing today but rather approving planning and needs to get the planning done and go forward. She stated that the Board should not let a group of terrorists keep this from being done if that is what needs to be done.
Commissioner Messer stated that we=ve got to move on. AWe=ve got to plan for the people of Henderson County.@
Commissioner Ward stated that based on the study that was done in the past, the Sheriff could fit his people into this building with ease. The old jail has to come down and the wall needs to be built. AIt=s budgeted and we need to go ahead and do it. Let=s move on and see what we=ve got and then we can decide if we want to do the courthouse.@ He stated that he felt the Human Service Building was essential.
Chairman Moyer stated that he felt there was a consensus. He made the motion to proceed with the steps to tear down the jail and build the wall and finish the work in that phase that has already been budgeted for, as outlined by the County Manager. All voted in favor and the motion carried.
Chairman Moyer stated that it was the consensus of the Board to move forward to review the facilities plan. There are still a lot of decisions that have to be addressed but rather than stop now and cancel the courthouse piece of it, to move forward and hear what=s being proposed and make the decisions as necessary. Four were in agreement and one was opposed (Commissioner Hawkins).
Staff was asked to proceed with the presentation.
Mr. Nicholson explained that the Historic Courthouse is three stories tall with seventeen different levels. In 1997 when renovation/restoration of the Courthouse was discussed, if it had been approved and done at that time it would have cost Henderson County $5,000,000. Those costs have been updated and it would now cost about $5.7 million for Option A which is an up-dated plan of what was discussed in 1997. Travel & Tourism would contribute to those costs and the on-going operating costs now because they are proposed to be located on the main level and front of the building.
Mr. Nicholson explained the option of building a service annex to the back of the building which would contain an elevator, stairwell, and bathroom facilities for the entire building. The service annex would be 35 feet wide and would go across the width of the back of the building. He pointed out to the Board where different County Departments could be located. The Commissioners= Meeting Room would be the old Courtroom. He envisioned opening up the gallery of the old Courtroom.
There was some discussion of a plaza area in front of the building with possibly a circular driveway with some parking and/or a small city park.
The preliminary estimated cost of renovation and new construction including new heating, air, and plumbing was $7,200,000. He would propose to go out to bid in May of 2003. This proposed plan still needs to be shown to the Travel & Tourism Board.
Mr. Nicholson stated that he anticipates using a COPs (Certificate of Participation) for some Middle School projects, the Human Service building, and the Historic Courthouse. Mr. Nicholson stated that he would discuss this in more detail as he reviewed plans for the Human Service Building.
Human Service Building
David reminded those present that one thing that was done to start off this project was to do an Operational Analysis of the Health Department Services. This analysis showed how we flow people through the building at the Health Department.
According to the space needs studies that have been done, the revised number for the Public Health Department was 24,797 square feet and 3,597 square feet of growth area for that department. DSS needs was 25,238 square feet and 2,522 square feet of growth area. There was some discussion of how to handle growth area, whether it would be a large shelled-in area or areas dispersed throughout the building.
Following discussion, the Board expressed the need to see square footage, flexible space, and extra space/growth space for five years.
There was some discussion of having two entrances on the back of the building versus one entrance on the back with a shared vestibule and two lobbies for the two different departments.
There was quite a bit of discussion regarding shared space for the two departments. Tom Bridges and his staff had expressed some concern about some of the shared areas. Liston Smith expressed that he and his staff had no problem with shared lobbies, waiting areas, conference rooms, etc. Everyone understood that there would need to be some coordination between departments on sharing conference areas.
The architect and staff have reasonably defined the square footage needs and established that the building can meet those needs. The details have to be worked out yet.
Mr. Nicholson stated that staff has recently spent time working on the budget for this project. Ten million dollars still seems to be a strong budget for this building, including paying off the $2.65 million loan that was taken out to purchase the building originally, as well as the construction costs of the building which come to about $5,000,000 actual construction costs. He then expressed that he hoped for final approval to go out to bid in April or May of 2003 with financing to follow bid openings. They plan to bring in a general contractor who has no interest in bidding the project to get a true cost of the project. No one wants to go over budget on this project.
Human Service Building $10,000,000
Historic Courthouse 8,000,000
The plan is to sell the Nuckoll=s Building, Land Development Building, the current Travel & Tourism Building which would be two to three million dollars to go toward the project. The net cost would then be $15 million to $15.5 million that would need to be borrowed.
Liston Smith had to leave at approximately 1:55 p.m.
Mr. Nicholson reviewed briefly the plans for the following:
Law Enforcement Center - 100 N. King Street
>New= Land Development Building (current Health Dept.)
>Current= Land Development Building
Fletcher Branch Library
City Water Department Building
Chairman Moyer stated that this entire plan is based on the renovation of the Historic Courthouse and the Sheriff taking over the entire building at 100 N. King Street. If anything is going to change with respect to these two pieces of the puzzle, it has to be explored and decisions made right away.
He asked if the Board wished to revisit this issue. There was much discussion. No decision was made and Chairman Moyer asked that this be placed on the mid-October agenda for a final decision (October 17, 2001).
BOARD DISCUSSION/DIRECTION TO STAFF
There was much Board discussion. The Board wanted to know what would happen if we don=t renovate the courthouse and what would it cost and what would happen if we do renovate the courthouse and the costs. They asked for some better cost figures. The decision also needs to be made whether we want Travel & Tourism in the Historic Courthouse and the costs and revenues for that. There was also some discussion about the fact that the Board of Commissioners could raise the room tax, being authorized to go up to 5%. Our current rate is 3%.
This item will be placed on the October 17 meeting and Staff will have as much information and options for the Board as possible at that meeting.
Commissioner Hawkins made the motion to adjourn the meeting at approximately 2:10 p.m. All voted in favor and the motion carried.
Elizabeth W. Corn, Clerk to the Board William L. Moyer, Chairman