Grant to fund government complex renovations

Published 5:00 am Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Lincoln County officials are preparing to move forward with thefirst renovations to the county courthouse since it became thelocal government complex in the early 1980s.

The renovation project will use a $500,000 grant from theDepartment of Housing and Urban Development.

In a joint effort, the city of Brookhaven is the grantrecipient, but the county is administering and overseeing fundexpenditures. Aldermen approved an interlocal agreement on the planlast week.

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“Next week we may try to set up a meeting with an architect tostart some drawings,” said County Administrator David Fields. “Ourgoal is to put a pitched roof on it and get away from this flatroof.”

The flat roof has trapped water during rains and caused damageto the structure several times in the past, he said, and leakinghas posed some major problems during heavy rains.

“We’ve had roof leaking problems for quite a while that we’vebeen patching,” Fields said. “We’re hoping this grant may coversome of these high ticket items.”

Supervisors will also evaluate the courthouse’s heating andcooling systems for possible replacement or expansion. The currentsystem is inadequate, he said.

The timing is right to address those concerns as well becausemuch of the heating and cooling system equipment is above thesecond floor and difficult to reach for replacement.

“If we have to do any major repairs, we have to cut a hole inthe roof to get the equipment out, so we’ll be looking at that,too,” he said.

New plans would include some form of roof access to the heatingand cooling system air handlers, Fields said.

A timeframe for the renovation project has not been set, hesaid, adding officials are still in the beginning stages ofdeveloping plans.

Before setting a timeline, he said, supervisors will have toevaluate the heating and cooling systems, approve an architect’sdesign for the new roof and bid the project.

“Early next year would be considered very early for constructionto begin,” Fields said. “We want to get on it as soon as possible,but I don’t know what kind of time the design phase will take.”

He estimated the roofing and heating and cooling systems wouldtake all of the grant funding, but other minor projects are beingplaced on a list and prioritized should any money remain.

The city, which also has its offices in the county courthouse,has requested that if any money remains it be used to replace thecarpet in their offices. Carpet throughout the courthouse has notbeen replaced since the government complex opened approximately 20years ago.

Jail inmates have been keeping the paint throughout the complexfresh, Fields said, but few other upgrades have been made in thebuilding.

Hopefully, he said, during the next few years the county canafford to pay for some of the other minor needs of the courthousethat will be identified on the priority list.