LAURINBURG — There will be a meeting that is open to the public next week to discuss design options for the proposed new City Hall.
The special called meeting will be held Thursday at 5:30 p.m. in the Council Chambers of the Municipal Building located at 303 West Church St.
But several residents have already voiced their opposition to constructing the facility at a meeting this week of the Laurinburg City Council. During the public comment portion of the council meeting, several people said the city needs to focus on other issues rather than building the new City Hall.
Minister Kenneth Samuda said Laurinburg needs more jobs, an increased police force and a recreational center. He said the city should consider delaying the project five years.
“If you could bring some jobs here and put people to work you might have a different response,” he said. “Give us a chance, look after us and we will look after you.”
Another resident said she plans to petition against the proposed municipal facility.
“We don’t need it right now and we can’t afford it,” she said. “What we need is something for our young people. I work with children during the summer months and they need something to do.”
The cost to build the 22,000-square-foot municipal building that would house all city departments including the Laurinburg Police Department, has been estimated at $7.7 million based on a 2013 study and average prices per square foot. The first phase of the design process, now complete, has already cost the city $108,000.
Resident Frank Evans told council that he did not think the city has that kind of money to spend.
“We’re struggling, some of you may be struggling,” he said. “Not too many will admit that they struggle, but they do. That’s an epidemic of people living beyond their means and putting on a show.”
Evans told council that the residents want to be heard on the issue. he added that he has sent at least four emails to each council member and had not received any response.
“My name’s Frank Evans and I’m just one person, but there are a lot more just like me … you just have to want to listen.”
City officials have said that there is a need for a new City Hall to replace the one that was built in the mid-1950s and expanded in the 1970s. City staff and architects have also argued that the design and construction of the current building make electrical and technological upgrades difficult and costly.
A 2013 space needs analysis, performed by Oakley Collier Architects of Rocky Mount, identified the need for 22,000 square feet to house various city departments —7,000 more than the current police station and W. Charles Barrett administrative building combined. Other concerns include the level of public access to the police department, asbestos flooring, and staircases too narrow to comply with current fire codes.
On Thursday, city officials will meet with representatives from Creech & Associates, the architectural design firm, and Edifice, Inc., the construction management at risk firm, to talk about design options.
The city will also be given an overview of potential costs.