Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Commissioners and Spectrum talk mold, money and time

Some information not previously released to the public

The Stillwater County Commissioners met with Spectrum Group Architects last week to discuss the controversial topic of remodeling the old hospital for county office space — a plan that has received virtually no public or county support.
In a recorded meeting that last approximately 1.5 hours last Wednesday afternoon, Commissioners Maureen Davey and Dennis Shupak, along with Spectrum Group Architects, explained to newly elected Commissioner Mark Crago the process used for deciding space needs and costs in remodeling the old hospital.
During the meeting, information previously not shared with the public was discussed and included the following:
•Mold or mold spores were found in the basement and have been tested.
•A grant was recently obtained to study the presence of asbestos in the old hospital.
•Only half of the space would be needed as other county offices have moved into what is now called the West Annex.
•If abatement and other unexpected costs total $140,000, the county would be on the cusp of losing the financial advantage of remodeling an existing building.
•The issue of parking could be partially solved with a change to diagonal parking. Additionally, with law enforcement and the courts not moving to the remodeled site, commissioners feel there would be sufficient space. No discussion occurred about where the public would park.
Commissioners Davey and Shupak did not respond to the News’ questions about these matters. Commissioner Crago did respond, saying the asbestos review grant was applied for in mid-December and that there would in fact be space “left over” at the old hospital.
The News was not present at the meeting, but listened to the official recording.
At one point Davey can be heard saying she thought it went well and that there are a couple of different ways to look at the situation.
“I trust you and I’ve given you a lot of money,” Davey said.
The county has paid Spectrum $75,412.88 for a feasibility study that looked at remodeling the old hospital.
Davey was asked Tuesday if that meant the remodel was going forward but she did not respond by press time.
Shupak and Davey also made comments about needing an elevator in the current courthouse. Shupak said he was concerned that District Court Judge Blair Jones was going to force the issue.
“Well, he’s got two years left too,” said Davey, referring to the fact that Jones has two years left on his current term.

BACKSTORY
Spectrum Group Architects was hired in 2012 to conduct a feasibility study to see if the old hospital could be remodeled to accommodate county offices currently housed in an aged and crowded courthouse. After several county officials — chiefly Jones — voiced concerns that only one option was being considered, the study was expanded to eventually include four or five possible options.