Two county facilities to receive improvements

by Sam Wilson
Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The New Hanover County Commissioners voted to move forward with a new outdoor learning environment for the Cape Fear Museum, along with renovations to the health department’s mental health building.

Funding for the museum’s new educational space will come from the county’s 2006 Parks Bond Referendum, which set aside $500,000 for the museum.

“The existing grounds do not invite visitors to discover the region’s rich stories,” Ruth Haas, the museum director, said. “The proposed project will improve the landscape, will enhance the neighborhood and will connect and add meaning to the museum campus.”

The conceptual plan includes landscaping designed to demonstrate barrier island, marsh, river and upland forest ecosystems. Safety improvements to the outdoor space would include security cameras and improved lighting.

The New Hanover County Health Department’s mental health building will receive $3.67 million to renovate the old mental health building next to the health department’s main building at 2029 S. 17th St. The renovations will turn the old building into clinical space and add a lobby and canopy connecting the two buildings. Lisa Wurtzbacher, the county’s finance director, said the county received five bids, with the lowest bid coming from Monteith Construction, which was awarded the contract. The cost exceeded the project’s budget of $2.76 million, requiring a $912,491 budget amendment.

Construction is scheduled to commence within two weeks and will take about six months to complete. 

In response to Chairman Woody White’s request for clarification on the funding source, Wurtzbacher said it will come from the property management budget and Medicaid Maximization funds.

“The health board came to the decision years ago that these were the appropriate dollars to help fund renovation,” county manager Chris Coudriet added.

Vice Chairwoman Beth Dawson also requested an update on the county’s solid waste management request for proposals. Coudriet said the county received informal interest from four companies to handle the county’s trash, but did not expect all four would submit formal RFPs. He added the county would receive and evaluate proposals in February, with a recommendation to the board expected in March.

In other business, the board approved a budget amendment allowing the addition of eleven school resource officers to the county’s elementary schools. The New Hanover County Board of Education approved the contract with the county sheriff’s department on Jan. 7. More than half of the cost will be paid through a state grant for the additional officers.


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