Time To Get The Ball Rolling On Depot

Erwin board votes to move forward with entire project.

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The Erwin Board of Commissioners voted unanimously to get the ball rolling on completing the Depot project Thursday night during a special-called meeting.

Board members agreed instead of using the money they have now for just outside repairs, to use it to pay for soft costs and designs to complete the entire project.

Soft costs in building construction are expenses not directly related to labor and physical building materials, such as architectural, engineering, financing, inspection, permits and other pre- and post-construction expenses.

Former plans for grant money received were for exterior repairs to the Depot, such as carpentry, removing lead paint, painting the building and replacing the asphalt roof.

The Erwin Depot is the future home of the Erwin History Museum and board members also would like to move the Erwin Area Chamber of Commerce offices there. The chamber office is currently located in a small office inside the Erwin Municipal Building and the History Room is next door to the library.

Renovations to the historical structure require special care to preserve the integrity of the building. The old train depot sat off 13th Street in Erwin near U.S. 421 since the 1970s and was moved about a quarter of a mile on Feb. 17, 2016, to its present location just behind the Erwin Fire Department.

The town advertised for bids to complete the exterior work needed on the Depot, but did not receive any bids. Town Manager Snow Bowden said he met with two people to show them the Depot and they both decided not to put in a bid.

The Town of Erwin received a $50,000 grant from the North Carolina Department of Commerce which they had decided to use to complete some work on the Depot. It also received funds to replace the roof from an insurance claim. An update on the progress of the project needs to be submitted to the N.C. Department of Commerce by July 15 and the project needs to be completed by Oct. 15.

Mr. Bowden plans to reach out to the state to get an extension on the deadline. “I think if we get the ball rolling I believe they will work with us,” Mr. Bowden said.

Erwin Mayor Patsy Carson called the meeting to order, Mayor Pro-Tem Randy Baker gave the invocation and town engineer Bill Dreitzler led in the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag.

All six commissioners were in attendance — Ricky Blackmon (ward 2), Frankie Ballard (ward 4), Billy Turnage (ward 6), Alvester McKoy (ward 1), Thurman Whitman (ward 3) and Mr. Baker (ward 5).

The Erwin Depot was the first item on the agenda.

During Thursday’s meeting, the board of commissioners voted to go back to the original designer, HagerSmith Design of Raleigh, and to see about having plans drawn up to complete the entire project and find out how much it would cost. From there, the board will need to look at ways to obtain the funding.

“I think the money will be better spent if we move forward with the entire project, not just patch it,” Commissioner Blackmon said.

“I pushed to get the ticket office put back on, but I’m ready to compromise,” Commissioner Turnage said. “That could be done later, even though I’d like to see the chamber move in there in the next year or so.”

“We’ve already got a lot of money invested in that building,” said Commissioner Blackmon.

“I would rather keep the money that we have and invest it in soft costs and design,” he said, adding that he would like for the town to go back, meet with the designer, have plans redrawn and see what it would take to finish the entire building.

In other business:

  • Board members agreed to revert to having Harnett County handle building inspections and issuing permits for the town since Erwin’s building inspector, Bill Morris, has submitted his resignation. The county has handled inspections for Erwin in years past.
  • Losing the building inspector position leaves the town with the task of finding a way to handle code enforcement. Board members talked about various ways to solve this problem. Mayor Carson suggested the town work with other municipalities and go into an agreement with them to share the cost to fill this position. Mr. Bowden was asked to look at seeing how much funds are available and to check with other municipalities.
  • In order to make the Erwin History Room handicap accessible, the board discussed having an existing blocked off door that goes into the Erwin Library reopened. Erwin History Room staff will be given a key to use during museum hours when the need arises. Mr. Bowden will attend the next History Room board meeting on July 10 to discuss this with members.
  • The board of commissioners voted unanimously to approve a budget amendment to transfer money from the contingency account to replace a HVAC unit in the gym at the Al Woodall Municipal Park. Recreation Director Doug Stevens obtained a quote to replace the old unit with a new system for $6,450. The text amendment calls for the money to be transferred to the capital outlay-equipment line item due to the fact that the equipment cost is more than $5,000.
  • Town manager Bowden updated the board of commissioners on the street lights on U.S. 421.

    “When you ride through it looks good, but it doesn’t look like it’s finished,” Mayor Carson said.

    “It looks like we didn’t finish it up,” Commissioner Turnage said.

    The board agreed for Mr. Bowden to look into having more lights installed on U.S. 421 and to come back with a price to finish up the project.

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