ECB Publishing, Inc.
County officials recently gave EMI architects the green light to complete the final construction documents for the A-Building, preparatory to soliciting bids to determine exactly how much more it will cost to complete the historic structure's restoration.
On Thursday evening, January 3, the Jefferson County Commission agreed to pay EMI $161,240 to draw the building's final plans, which will include the architectural, structural, mechanical, plumbing and electrical elements of the design, along with miscellaneous security and other construction-related activities.
Based on these drawings, the commission plans to solicit bids from construction contractors to get truer picture of the cost to complete the building's restoration. The commission's hope is that it will get the money for the restoration's cost largely from the Florida Legislature.
Commissioner Stephen Fulford, who had questioned the reasonableness of the architects' fee and called for delay of a decision until he could check with an architect friend and determine if the fee was reasonable, reported to his colleagues that it was.
“I talked to my friend and she thought the fee was adequate,” Fulford said.
The $161,240 does not include another $132,000 that EMI will charge for bidding the project and administering the construction.
The architects are moreover estimated fees, based on a projected construction cost of between $3,951,000 and $4,829,000 to complete the A-Building's restoration, in 2018 dollars. Meaning that the final cost could be more or less, which would also reflect on the architect fees.
So far, the A-Building's restoration has cost nearly $4 million in grants and local contributions, and the project is only half completed.
The commission plans to pay the $161,240 from a specially designated account whose monies come from a surcharge on all traffic citations issued in the county. The account currently has
about $87,000 – far short of the fee amount.
But Clerk of Court Kirk Reams is confident that the necessary money will accumulate in the coming months. For one thing, Reams said, the architects' bill wouldn't be submitted or come due until several months down the line. And it wouldn't come as one sum lump, he said.
Meanwhile, Reams noted, the account accumulates funds at the rate of about $5,000 to $6,000 monthly, depending on how many traffic citations officers of the Florida Highway Patrol, Jefferson County Sheriff's Office and Monticello Police Department issue.
No mention was made at this last meeting about the flooding that several weeks earlier concerned commissioners enough to talk about possibly halting the project until the problem could be resolved.
Barfield in particular voiced concern about the flooding at the December meeting.
“I want to express my dismay about the west end of the building,” she then said in reference to the flooding. “It continues to be wet in the basement. If we don't deal with this problem, it will continue until eternity. We want to take a good, hard look at this before we do anything more. Even with the generator and pump, the water keeps flowing.”
She suggested that the board hold off on a decision on the project until the cause of the flooding could be determined.
The way it was then left, the board talked of having the water to the building shut off during a weekend to determine if a leaking pipe might be causing the flooding. Whatever was done or not done, however, it was not discussed at the Jan. 3 meeting.
The A-Building's restoration has been proceeding for more than 20 years. It had its beginning in 1997 under the auspices of the Jefferson County School Board.