BELLEAIR – Town commissioners voted 4-1 March 5 to approve a maximum price of $1.66 million for the construction of a 10,784-square-foot public works building to replace the existing termite-infested structure.
As Belleair officials reported in September 2011, the public works building has structural damage caused by termites in the wooden rafters and truck damage garage columns. Consequently, they determined that a new building is needed.
The town can build the garage area and demolish the existing garage at a cost of $617,000, Public Works Director Perry Lopez said in a memo. However, the town will be left with the danger of termite-infested wood throughout the rest of the building.
Furthermore, the existing woodshops, supervisor offices, bathroom facilities and break rooms are severely inadequate, he said.
Looking for another location to perform the public works operations has been explored and determined to be a costly alternative.
“And of course we could keep operating under the conditions we have right now, which is the least desirable because of the liability issue we have with the structural damage,” Lopez told commissioners at the meeting.
The town finance board reviewed the issue and recommended that the commission move forward with the additional funds.
The $1.66 million construction cost, as provided by architects, is $368,969 over budget. The original preliminary budget was based on a new building of 8,000 square feet. After further discussion, town officials determined the building would have to be 10,784 square feet. The $1.66 million estimate represents the minimum requirements to efficiently run a public works operation, Lopez wrote.
Preliminary estimates for furniture, fixtures and equipment are an additional $50,000.
Commissioner Kevin Piccarreto asked what liability issues were involved with keeping the existing building, which was built in 1964.
Lopez said building is being held up with scaffolding and cable. He showed a photo of the termite damage to one of the trusses.
“That is consistent throughout the building, including the administrative portion and the workshops, not just the garage.”
Piccarreto then asked if the building is in such grave danger for liability purposes why are employees working in it.
“Because that’s all we have. I don’t know what the amount of danger is. I don’t know how to measure that,” Lopez said.
Belleair resident Lil Cromer said that “we who come to the meeting are pretty much sick and tired of talking about this building, and we really need to do something and get off the pot.”
Piccarreto voted against the maximum price, saying that if the building were such a danger or liability problem, yellow tape would be around it. He also expressed concerns about the proposal being over budget.
Mayor Gary Katica said “now that I understand that it will be a facility that will last us for a long time, I’m in favor of it.”
In other matters, commissioners gave final approval of an ordinance authorizing the town to purchase the Belleview Biltmore Golf Club, at 1510 Indian Rocks Road, at a cost of $3.5 million.