Chamber renovations moving forward

Published 5:00 am Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Several important construction and renovation projects were onthe agenda for Tuesday night’s board of aldermen meeting, includingupgrades to the Brookhaven-Lincoln County Chamber of Commerce andthe adjoining old fire station.

Chamber Executive Vice President Cliff Brumfield presentedblueprints for the project to give aldermen an idea of what therenovations would entail.

Brumfield said the chamber is working with $297,000 in grantfunds to be applied to the renovations. Upgrading the steelstaircase and elevator alone, however, could cost over $200,000, hesaid.

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“We don’t have cost estimates just yet,” he said. “But during ameeting with architects last week, we discussed steel and concreteprices, which are the primary building materials involved with thechamber of commerce renovations.”

He said the initial upgrades would allow the elevator located inthe old firehouse to serve the first and second floors, which wouldopen up the second-floor courtroom to be used as a meeting andreception hall.

“The elevator, as well as steel staircase, are necessary to makeareas of the old city hall more handicap accessible, in addition tofire safety compliance,” Brumfield said.

Brumfield said that while the initial renovations would not alladdress that has been planned, they will make the building muchmore eligible for grants and other financial assistance that can bebudgeted for aesthetic improvements.

Adding period-correct lighting and heating fixtures will be apart of those later projects, he said, in addition to redoing otherareas of the first floor.

Brumfield said there is still a possibility that when bids aretaken, more than expected could be accomplished within the currentbudget.

“Due to overall slow construction market, perhaps we’ll havebetter bids so we can also include some of the interiorrenovations,” he said.

Bids are expected to open in the next six weeks, Brumfield said.The chamber is working through final details with the Department ofArchives and History.

Mayor Bob Massengill also shared good news with the board on themuch-discussed multimodal facility, saying that both AMTRAK andCanadian National Railroad had finally agreed on an eight-inch dockheight.

The dock height had long been a point of contention between thetwo companies and had held up construction in Brookhaven, as wellas several other cities around the country. Massengill saidcurrently architects are looking at the plans for the facility tobe certain that they are compliant with all guidelines.

In other construction discussion, Massengill told the board thatthe new police station, which will be located in the old highwaypatrol building on Highway 51 south, is closer to seeing thebeginning of construction.

Massengill said architect Michael Boerner of Barrancoarchitecture had told him some changes needed to be made to thebuilding to assure that it is compliant with federal guidelines.Compliance is required since the funding is coming throughUSDA.

“We hope the USDA engineers will sign off on the project thisweek, and we can begin moving along,” he said.