Chris Hacker, the county’s director of assets, procurement and projects, said they plan to award the project still this year but likely the only work that will begin will be some plumbing work in the basement. Next year the main focus will be roof work, “obviously just the exposure to the weather all those years has caused the need to button things up a little bit.”
About six years ago Commissioner Cindy Carpenter dubbed the five-story structure at the corner of Court Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard their “Stone Age” garage, but it has still taken several years to get the wheels turning on automating it.
The 600-space garage currently operates as a cash-only, pay-at-the-gate operation. Proposals to automate the garage, making it more user-friendly and generating revenue from community events back then ranged from $100,000 to $400,000.
Hacker said the current estimate is $120,000 and he is preparing to get that project off the ground, but it isn’t as easy as it may sound. He said it involves installing pay stations where people can use either cash or credit cards. They have to work with what is in place already, namely the gate system at the entrance and exit.
“It’s more than just hey put a ticket dispenser in,” he said. “I hope that is another project we can do this winter. I certainly have not scratched it and pulled it entirely. It’s just a matter of, I want to get those details ironed out now, rather than get everything plugged in and try and sort through okay, how is it going to work.”
The larger capital-based project the county has tried to accomplish for years has briefly stalled. The commissioners put out a request for proposals on a space utilization study this summer but only received one bid. This week they officially rejected the bid and are going to try again.
The county embarked on this project several years ago, but it stalled when former asset director Randy Quisenberry left. Commissioner Don Dixon has estimated 10% to 15% of the county’s space could be eliminated by consolidating offices and making other strategic moves.
Boyko penciled $15 million in the tax budget for a capital reserve fund. The bulk of this money became available when the commissioners erased all general fund debt last year. Some of that money will be used to support recommendations that might come out of the study.
Hacker said he is hoping to get more interest in the project by reaching out to the American Institute of Architects to get the word out to its membership that the project is available and extending the timeframe from two to four weeks.
Rogers is “frustrated” it has taken so long to get this project completed.
“As a realtor it’s been gnawing at me since I got here,” Rogers said. “Because it is not the most efficient use of space.”