Thursday, January 18, 2018

Commissioners’ old hospital decision troubling

Last Tuesday during the agenda meeting, the county commissioners made a decision to utilize the “old hospital” for county office space while leaving law enforcement and the courts at the courthouse.
Over the past few years there have been several public meetings to obtain public input regarding the best alternative to the need to expand county office space. After considering the information from those meetings and, according to the commissioners, visits with citizens on the street, the decision was made to expand county office space to the “old hospital.”
I understand this has been a difficult decision to make. Since this involves a considerable amount of taxpayer dollars, I am sure the community has many questions about the planning and steps involved in this project.
For example, since this is a new and extensive project, will the first step be to obtain bids from architectural firms that have expertise in restoration of old, historic buildings? Additionally, one would assume that no building or renovation would be undertaken until a complete design and costs were presented. Since this project involves both rebuilding the “old hospital” and renovation of the courthouse, will the commissioners be accepting bids for a licensed, bonded general contractor?
In the interest of transparency, what the commissioners’ plans to keep the community involved and apprised of the progress and the decisions being made?
There are a few questions I, and I am sure, other community members have for the commissioners. Again, I understand the difficulty of the decision. However, I do find it a bit troubling that more credence was given to people the commissioners indicated they talked with on the street than the people who took time out of their day to attend public meeting regarding the project. This is an expensive, but exciting project for the community. I would hope the commissioners would make every effort to keep the public involved in the progress and decisions made with this project.

Coralee Hicks
Columbus