Though price negotiations continue, the Liberty County Board of Commissioners took a step Thursday that brings the East End Community Complex project closer to fruition.
Buckley and Associates project architect David Holton value-engineered the project to bring it within its $3.6 million budget since receiving six bids — all over budget — in the fall.
Holton presented a plan to reduce the number of parking spaces to be installed, which cuts a “significant amount” from the project because it would eliminate the need for curb and gutter installation. The spots could be added in a later phase.
Other changes included eliminating roof improvements, using wall-mount heating and air conditioning units instead of central heating and air for a multipurpose area, reducing the size of a secondary awning and removing some windows.
The windows to be removed are on the east and west sides of the buildings, and their removal would likely help with efficiency, Holton added.
The plan also reduces the landscaping budget from $100,000 to $50,000, he said.
“These next numbers are hard numbers, and, you know, we’re talking a good amount of value engineering here,” Holton said.
County Administrator Joey Brown recommended they authorize Chairman John McIver to negotiate a final contract based on a price not to exceed $4,597,740, with some additional funds coming from outside sources.
Initially, the project had a $3.8 million budget to come from the county’s SPLOST fund, Brown said. Some of the difference could be offset by funds the county received from the Office of Economic Adjustment and possible contributions from the recreation department budget to cover the playground area.
Brown also said they found an additional source of funds, but that he would let Commissioner Marion Stevens Sr. speak about that.
“This project is dear to me … We see what we’re up against,” Stevens said. “So I am willing to dedicate $200,000 of some money I’ve got toward this project just to show what this project means to me.”
After the meeting, Stevens clarified that the money is coming from the SPLOST budget for District 1.
The board authorized McIver to negotiate as Brown recommended. McIver will negotiate with Pope Construction and bring a final number back to the board, with the potential to move some aspects of the project into future phases.
“It’s like a dream come true,” Stevens said after the meeting. “It’s like a child getting a toy for Christmas that he’s been wanting for years.”
The county’s vision is for the completed complex to include walking trails, a pool, a pavilion, an area for small outdoor events and a community meeting room at the former school site.
Commissioners Donald Lovette and Pat Bowen were not at the meeting.