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Commissioners To Meet on Tuesday: Topics Include Greenway Extension, Medic Base

By Jesse Wood

The Watauga County Board of Commissioners will meet on Tuesday, March 17, at 5:30 p.m. in the Watauga County Administration Building.

Below is a synopsis of the agenda items, which include the greenway extension project at Brookshire Park and the new medic base in between Cove Creek and Vilas.

Request for Additional Services for Medic Base 3

Innovative Designs, the architect working on the new medic base in between Cove Creek and Vilas, is requesting a change order of $2,970 for additional services performed.

According to a memo from Watauga County Manager Deron Geouque:

“The additional services performed were to reevaluate the geotechnical site analysis. The purpose was to determine if the current seismic rating of D was appropriate or if the site had the potential to be designated as a C rating. Based on the additional analysis, the site was able to be reclassified from a D to C rating. The change in the rating will reduce the costs in the construction while not jeopardizing the structural integrity of the facility.”

In May 2014, county staff negotiated a fixed fee of $45,000 with Innovative Designs. At the time of this negotiation, the project’s budget was $667,000 – of which $126,000 was spent for the 13 acres of land and preliminary engineering.

In December, the Watauga County Board of Commissioners received an update from County Maintenance Director Robert Marsh and a representative of Innovative Designs that the “probable cost” of construction is estimated to be $420,000 and that the facility should be ready for “occupancy” in December 2015.

Bid Award for Greenway Extension Project

Watauga County Planning Director Joe Furman will appear before the commissioners to request approval to negotiate with Vaughn & Melton Associates to preform construction administration for the South Fork of the New River greenway extension project.

Furman noted that the his office solicited six letters of intent from pre-qualified NCDOT engineering firms and that McGill Associates and Vaughn & Melton responded to the solicitation letters.

According to a memo from Geouque:

“Both of these firms have local offices. McGill Associates was the design engineer for the project. Vaughn & Melton provided the construction administration for the Middle Fork greenway project. The County was satisfied with the services provided by Vaughn & Melton. NCDOT does not allow for the design engineer to also perform construction administration unless an exception is requested and granted.”

Geeouque noted that N.C. General Statutes calls for the most qualified engineering company to be selected without regard to fee and that a contract is to be negotiated afterwards.

Planning work on the greenway extension project, which would connect Brookshire Park to the Boone Greenway Trail, began in 2010. When the commissioners initially approved the project, it was known that the most challenging aspect would be running the route underneath the bridge on U.S. 421 – for which this bid is related.

According to construction bid documents, available at the www.wataugacounty.org, the project is to be completed before the end of the year. The bid to construct the eight and 10 foot greenway path adjacent to the South Fork of the New River and Industrial Park Drive, including the underpass, opens on March 20.

Report of Unpaid Property Taxes

Watauga County Tax Administrator Larry Warren will request the approval to advertise unpaid real estate tax bills for the 2014 year.

According to a memo from Warren to Geouque, more than $1.4 million in property taxes are outstanding.

Here the memo:

“The 2014 report of unpaid taxes, which represent liens on real property, needs to be presented to the Board of County Commissioners at the March 17 meeting. The current 2014 amount of outstanding taxes for Watauga County is $1,401,527.52. This equates to approximately 3.88 percent of the total original real tax levy. Upon receipt, the Board needs to order the Tax Collector to advertise these tax liens. According to the North Carolina statutes, the advertisement has to be published between March 1 and June 30. We plan to advertise during the month of May, one time in the local newspaper, Watauga Democrat. Please let me know if you have any questions.”

Scheduling of Budget Work Sessions and EDC Joint Meeting:

The board will schedule two budget work sessions for the 2015-16 fiscal year in early to mid May. The exact dates aren’t yet set.

The board will also schedule a joint meeting with the Watauga County Economic Development Commission, likely in April. An exact date isn’t set yet.

See the entire meeting packet here.

WCC March