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:
“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.