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Thursday, October 2, 2008

Sykes Building Demolition and New Health Dept. Building is Delayed by New Requirements

Rebidding of Demolition Currently Underway, Additional Site Contamination Testing Will Be Required
By Sid Riley

The routine phase one site tests performed by Melvin Engineering on the proposed site for the new Jackson County Health Department facility at the Marianna Airport Industrial Park on the existing Sykes Building location has led to some delays in the start-up of the project. The Melvin Engineering report noted that the grass appeared to be distressed on the lot located across the road from the site. This alerted officials within the State Department of Health to what they perceive as a potential problem, and thus led to additional testing requirements being mandated.
Melissa Lloyd, a lawyer with the State Department of Health has issued a requirement to Jackson County officials that a "phase two" site analysis must now be performed. This new analysis involves extensive core drilling around the site to provide assurance that no underground contamination is present. This study will cost approximately $15,000 and will be paid for by the State.
William Long, Jackson County Health Department Director stated that since the site is within the boundaries of an abandoned Air Force base, and since the State has previously experienced contamination problems at other, similar sites, they are especially sensitive to this issue. "Our research related to the history of use at this location leads us to be reasonably assured that no problems are present. It was off the end of a runway, near the perimeter of the compound, and far away from any storage areas," Long related.
"This study will be performed after the demolition is completed." If contamination is discovered, the State would then require selection of another site for approval.
Another issue that is creating some delays in the onset of the demolition process is the requirement for rebidding the cost of demolition. "The original bids were solicited by the city, and are now expired. Since the property now belongs to the county, new bids had to be advertised and solicited," stated County Manager Ted Lakey. "We are opening these bids for approval and selection on October 9, and will be proceeding with demolition after that has been accomplished."
Initially, the County Commissioners had hoped that this project would move ahead quickly and on schedule because of another issue. Walgreens is currently doing "due diligence" in their evaluation of purchasing from the county the existing Jackson County Planning Building on East Lafayette. Terms of their purchases contract would require the County to vacate that building by October 2009. In order to meet that requirement and also avoid a double move for the involved functions, it was hoped that the new Health Department Building would be completed by that time so that the Planning functions could be moved into the existing Health Department Buildings. These delays that are currently being encountered make that approach less likely to happen.
There is one other aspect of the Health Department project that still needs clarification. Sykes had installed a large, expensive stand-by generator for their call center operation. When vandalism occurred at the site after it was damaged by a tornado and abandoned by Sykes, Marianna officials had the generator removed and placed into storage for safe keeping. This generator has an estimated value of $250,000.
The new Health Department facility will need a standby generator. It is logical to assume that this piece of equipment would best serve that need. Questions that are arising related to this issue are:
♦ Should the State be given the $250,000 generator as part of giving them the property for the construction of the building?
♦ Who owns the generator? The City? The County? Or do they have joint ownership?
In these times of declining revenues and tight budgets, the potential income from sale of this generator could be significant. The passage of time and future negotiations will resolve this matter.

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