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Officials tinker with plans for Sweetwater gym

Function and style are two elements that the Recreation Board didn't want to lose on the gymnasium in the works for Sweetwater Park.

Michael Moreland from the Facility Design Group updated the McDuffie County Commission on the gym's progress during a work session Monday evening. Original design figures put the price tag of the gym at $2.5 million, which is $500,000 over budget.

According to Recreation Board Chairman Mike McQuaig, his group had met with Mr. Moreland at least 10 times to discuss what could be cut without losing everything that the recreation department needed in the gym.

"Everybody wants something, and you can't put it all in there," Dr. McQuaig said.

During the presentation, Recreation Department Director Bob Howard handed out a sheet detailing what could be cut from the plans to shave the cost down to $2.16 million in Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax money.

Commissioners questioned several of the cuts such as $60,000 for construction of a new parking lot, adding real brick to the front of the building and using drywall instead of concrete block from eight feet to the ceiling inside.

Commission Chairman Charlie Newton proposed that several of the cuts be added back even though they would push the projected cost up. He said that preventing constant maintenance and making the building something to be proud of were more important.

"The things that they wanted to put back were things we wanted, too, but we just felt like we had to get as close around that $2 million mark as possible," Dr. McQuaig said. "Those were just things that wouldn't affect the way the gym could run."

"I do kind of agree with the chairman and perhaps others that maybe the facility can look a little bit nicer," said County Manager Don Norton.

Mr. Moreland was surprised at the comments from the commission, but he feels confident that the gym will be something McDuffie County will be glad to show off.

"I think they all agreed that being that this project has been talked about and worked on for over nine years that it's close enough where they feel that it's worth proceeding forward," said Mr. Moreland, who is working on ways to possibly offset the cost of what commissioners asked to have reinstated.

The next step is for Mr. Moreland to put together final plans so that construction bids can be made around the first of June. He said that the bids could come in higher or lower than the estimated price, depending on the rising cost of building materials.

Mr. Howard's proposal for covering the cost of the building over the budgeted $2 million is to shift the Recreation Department's remaining SPLOST money -- which includes nearly $388,000 in the "other" category -- toward the gym instead of purchasing equipment or lighting for additional fields.

The fund shifting is something on which officials cautioned the Recreation Department.

"You've got to be careful not to move enough funds that then it becomes difficult to make your ongoing capital expenses," Mr. Norton said.



Web posted on Thursday, May 5, 2005











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