By CALVIN PYNN
After a recent bid on the renovations needed to turn the old Newbern Elementary School Building in an Adult Day Care and Fall Prevention Center, Pulaski County officials are considering a different site for the project.
According to Pulaski County Zoning Administrator Danny Wilson, the bids for the initially planned site came back around $300,000 over budget. This prompted them to reevaluate the whole project.
“Once we got the bids, we realized how high they were, and looked at options for making that a little bit cheaper,” said Wilson.
The site for the now non-existent Dublin Primary School is the spot being considered for the Adult Day Care and Fall Prevention Center. Wilson said the county started considering the spot in Mid July, when assessing the renovation costs, as well as looking toward the county’s core for easier access.
A meeting was held Tuesday night at the Free Memorial Library in Dublin to gauge the public’s opinion of the possible alternate site. According to Wilson, the response toward the change was mainly favorable.
The Pulaski County Industrial Development Authority currently owns the Dublin Primary School site.
The existing building on the site was demolished after being deemed beyond repair, meaning that putting the Adult Day Care and Fall Prevention Center on that site would prompt construction of a brand new building. The building for the Christmas Store in Dublin is also on the property, and will remain as is, if the county moves forward with that site.
Wilson said new construction is estimated at $670,000 for a new building versus renovations to Newbern Elementary, where their lowest bids were $969,000.
“We’re looking at those two options and seeing if there’s a way we can reduce the renovation costs still, or if new construction would be the most cost effective way to have an adult day care center open up,” he said.
Newbern Elementary requires multiple fixes, including upgrades to the building’s wiring and plumbing, asbestos removal, and new heating and air conditioning. They would also need to replace the windows, roof, septic system, and more than likely re-modify the entrance to meet VDOT standards, in addition to exterior work for parking.
Wilson pointed out that one important distinction between the two is Newbern would only be a partial renovation, so that would leave about two thirds of the building available for something else. The cost to renovate the building includes some items that would impact the entire building, such as a new roof.
“You can’t just put a new roof on the renovated section,” he said. “While the renovation would cost count the whole roof, that actually helps the whole building as well. There are some improvements to the entire site, rather than just the one-third of the building that will actually be used in those costs.”
Linda Davis, the Board of Directors Chair for Pulaski Adult Day Services, said they were disappointed that the originally planned Newbern site probably wouldn’t work out. She described certain therapeutic attributes that attracted them to the site, including the mountain backdrop, and room for features such as a walking trail and garden.
However, she also said the Dublin Primary School site would work for the Adult Day Care and Fall prevention Center, as she recognized the advantages of having a new building. The room to expand will be an important factor for the organization as well.
“It will be a good thing if we can get the land that comes with the rest of the property,” Davis said.
She also said the Dublin Primary School site’s location in the county’s core could make it an interactive spot within the community, especially as there are children nearby that could come visit. Still, the organization hopes to keep Newbern Elementary on the table, and ultimately wants the project to move forward.
“I think it’s just important that we get this done, it’s just so needed,” Davis said.
“We haven’t given up on Newbern,” she added.
According to Wilson, the county has options for Newbern regardless of where the Adult Day Care and Fall Prevention Center goes. They’re also looking into the possibility of constructing a new building on the Newbern site to see if that would be cost effective as well.
“Really, we have three different options on two different sites we’re looking at,” said Wilson.
He said the county’s ultimate preference is to build the facility within budget. The project is funded through a $700,000 Community Development Block Grant, along with some matching funds put forward by the county.
While the county is looking at the project from the fiscal side, Wilson said that the non-profit organization behind it will be comfortable with whatever site they choose, as they will be responsible for the Adult Day Care and Fall Prevention Center’s daily operations.
“If they’re not successful, the project will not be successful,” said Wilson.
New construction would speed the project up by about two to three months, as the revised estimates showed a faster turnaround with new construction rather than renovations.
“We have about 18 months now before the center needs to be open, so three months construction is doable,” said Wilson. “Really, the important aspects here are the budget, and what will work best in the end for the center to operate.”