County offices may move to old hospital
The Harrison County Commissioners moved a step closer Monday morning to renovating the old hospital buildings located off Atwood Street for county government use.
Bret W. Dodd, director of architectural services for consultant RQAW, asked the board for direction regarding the three buildings on the old hospital campus.
Commissioner James Goldman said he wants to ‘take the bigger approach to solve all the problems’ by utilizing the old hospital buildings.
‘I think it’s imperative we get it done while we have the funds without taxing people,’ said Goldman.
Commissioner J.R. Eckart said he would like to see a ‘one-stop shop’ for citizens when they need to get county business done. Now, people have to drive all over downtown Corydon for different services.
‘I think that’s a great idea,’ said Dodd.
The buildings offer an opportunity to house many county offices, with 74,000 usable square feet of space in the three buildings combined.
‘These buildings represent five courthouses in square footage,’ said Dodd.
The board asked Dodd to return at the first meeting in November with a recommendation for placement of county offices in the buildings. The new government center will potentially house several offices including the auditor, recorder, assessor, treasurer and surveyor.
The commissioners plan to use the two Medical Office buildings for the Purdue Cooperative Extension Service, the parks department, and the planning and zoning office.
Eckart also made sure Dodd understands the immediate need for the placement of the health department.
The space-needs study conducted by RQAW included an estimate for 25 years from now, which is the course the commissioners want to take to ensure room for growth.
‘There’s no department that doesn’t need anything,’ said Dodd.
The cost of renovating the building was estimated at $7.6 million by Dodd in a previous meeting.
In other matters Monday morning, consultants with HNTB Corp., an urban design and planning firm with offices in Louisville and Indianapolis, spoke to the commissioners about the possibility of a small airport in Harrison County. The consultants said there is a need for an airport in the county because most residents have to travel at least 30 minutes to reach an airport.
Chris Gould, consultant from HNTB, said the feasibility study to get the plan started would cost $150,000 and would need to be paid by the county. The total estimated cost of the project is $20 million, but only 2-1/2 percent ‘ about $650,000 ‘ would need to be gathered from local funds. Ninety-five percent would be funded by the Federal Aviation Association and another 2-1/2 percent would come from the Indiana Dept. of Transportation.
Eckart informed the consultants that the county tried to get the project going about 12 years ago but it stalled with INDOT.
‘I think that’s something we need to look at,’ said Jennifer Gora, HNTB consultant. ‘It’s sad to see it got stopped. The environment has changed a little bit up there (INDOT).’
The consultants said the two most difficult hurdles for the construction of a new airport are land acquisition and the environmental make-up of the area.
‘We’ll give it some thought and you’ll probably hear from us,’ said Goldman.
The board signed a homeland security grant for 800-megahertz radios for the county’s Emergency Management Agency director, Greg Reas. Reas said the grant will purchase about 80 radios.
‘This is a good step forward,’ Reas said. ‘I assure you we’ll make good use of this equipment.’
The commissioners also signed a 12-month lease agreement for the MCH building for $1,200 a month.
The commissioners sent a $16,000 request to the county council out of the riverboat human services fund for a new van for the Veterans Service Officer, $10,000 out of the riverboat contingency fund for the parks department for extra work because of storm damage, $5,300 for Bruce LaHue, the county’s animal control officer, to pay the kennel workers for the rest of the year, and $3,000 out of probation user’s fees for computer software and services for Judge Roger Davis.