LAURINBURG — The Laurinburg City Council voted four-to-one Tuesday night to begin taking bids from builders interested in signing on to the potential new city hall and police station.
Council member J.D. Willis made the motion to issue a request for quotes after council heard from Creech and Associates, the Charlotte design firm hired by council last year to redesign the Church Street site currently housing the police station and W. Charles Barret Administrative Building.
Based on the last 10 years of growth in city staff — which has been essentially stagnant — architects presented plans for a 22,500-square-foot building with two floors. In preliminary plans, most of the ground floor is designated for police, along with a public lobby and a customer service area, while city finance, human resources, and community development departments as well as council chambers, are on the second floor.
“It’s a very compact plan; it does a great job of compartmentalizing everyone but still maintaining sort of an open flow and we’re very excited about the advantages that it has to offer,” said architect Brent Green. “This looks very set in stone, but really at this phase we wanted to test the diagram.”
Creech and Associates also presented three options for the building’s facade, though council may pick and choose features of each. With council input, the firm may present a final design as early as February.
City staff will meet next week with the Local Government Commission in Raleigh for preliminary discussion about financing.
Council then directed City Manager Charles Nichols to begin the process of identifying potential construction firms.
“It’s no obligation; it’s just where we do RFQs and try to seek out construction firms,” said Nichols. “Then it would go through the process with a selection committee and come to council. There wouldn’t be any funds expended until the contract’s signed.”
Council member Mary Jo Adams cast the sole dissenting vote, preferring to wait until the city has received public input and reached a firmer idea of what financing options may be available.
But Willis and Mayor Tommy Parker presented the step forward as a low-risk process that will take two to three months to complete.
“If we move forward with the RFQ, then you can always stop at any point in time,” Willis said. “If you’re going to move forward with construction of a city hall, the financing will dictate what the dollar amount will be that we can actually borrow. You’re not hurting anything by moving forward with the process.”
“If at any point in that time, after public comment or after financing or whatever may not work right, you can stop and the only thing you will have expended at that point is more money to the architectural firm because they’ll have done more work,” said Parker.
Also on Tuesday, council heard from Utilities Director Stacey McQuage, whose staff has been responding to flooding caused by unseasonable levels of rainfall in the last few weeks. The city is in the process of repairing the ditch from Dickson Street to Leith Creek and installing 200 feet of pipe from Hillside Drive to a King Street ditch.
The city is also addressing beaver dams that can cause flooding and asking city residents to keep leaves and yard debris out of ditches and storm drains.
Mary Katherine Murphy can be reached at 910-506-3169.