PARKERSBURG - The possible addition of the circuit court and other offices to the new Justice Center could increase the project budget by $6.3 million, bringing the total to $12.8 million.
Wood County commissioners balked at the additional cost, saying Thursday leaving circuit court and the other offices at the Shaver Judicial Annex and addressing heating, cooling complaints coming from the annex would be a more cost-effective answer.
Last week, commissioners hired Charleston-based ZMM architect/engineering firm to design and oversee construction of the proposed Justice Center. Initial plans for the 28,000-33,000-square-foot, two- or three-story center call for it to be home to the sheriff's department, holding center, Day Report Center, Home Confinement program and magistrate court. Preliminary cost estimates for the building were $6.5 million.
In a letter to the commission on Thursday, Adam Krason, project manager with ZMM, noted after last week's meeting, there was a suggestion to construct a center that would include circuit court, magistrate court, family court, holding center, probation and the Wood County Sheriff's Office, while Home Confinement and the Day Report Center would occupy space vacated by the Family Court.
Family Court is now in the Judge Black Annex and circuit court is in the Shaver Judicial Annex.
"This adjustment would add approximately 35,000 square feet to the proposed program (an additional 33,000 to replace the Shaver Annex, which includes the circuit court and probation, an additional 8,000 feet for the family court, a reduction of 6,000 feet for Day Report and Home Confinement). This would necessitate increasing the project budget by $6.3 million," Krason said.
"Personally, I think we need to give Adam clear direction and scope. It's obvious everybody is having opinions on this. I think the circuit court building is in very good shape and adequate for what we need. If we did the combination, it increases the budget by about $6 million and I personally think we should continue the scope where it was originally," Commissioner Rick Modesitt said. "We'd be looking at something like almost $13 million if we did it the other way."
"As I understand the next step is for Adam to meet with the stakeholders who would have offices that would be moved to the new justice facility. During that phase, if you added circuit court, we see that would substantially increase the budget," said Commissioner Blair Couch.
Couch said one of the problems the county has experienced with the Shaver Annex is with the heating/cooling system. "We need to have an engineer to determine what needs to be done with that system."
"I've had complaints from the judges over there (judicial annex). They aren't happy with the building," said commission president Bob Tebay. "I'm sure they'd like to be included in the new one. There are problems with the annex, one of which is the windows.
"We need to have the seals checked. I've also been told when we took the furnace off the top (of the building), there were two separate units. If that's so, if it was a split system, and we aren't doing that now, we're doing that with one unit, that's a problem. I've asked the maintenance superintendent to get the original design plans to look at that," Tebay said. "I think there is a problem, and we need to have an engineer look at it.
"I think we've lost sight of what we're doing, that would be a grandiose plan (proposal to include circuit court and other offices), but I don't think we can afford those numbers, $6.5 million in additional costs," Tebay said.
On Thursday, Krason provided a written fee proposal. ZMM proposed a base fee of 6.8 percent, a fee of 0.5 percent for a security consultant and a 0.5 percent fee for LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design building rating system) documents for a total design fee of 7.8 percent.
The county authorized Krason to do a site analysis of four potential locales, with the location adjacent to the Shaver Judicial Annex and Second Street sheriff's office the top two contenders. The commission has not announced a site decision.