A comprehensive needs analysis on a future city/county government complex was delayed for nearly a month, but now it is full-steam ahead for Judd Bryant of the Atlanta-based planning firm Bryant and Associates who is conducting the study.
The Thomson and McDuffie County governments decided to hire Mr. Bryant in June to find out what would be needed for a new government building in the future. He is also studying how the needs of the city and county will expand 20 years from now.
Mr. Bryant said the study was scheduled for completion at the end of October, but a death in his family will put him closer to finishing near the end of November. He said that the study was too detailed to hand over to someone else while he was away.
"I certainly appreciate the patience that the county and the city have shown me in these circumstances because it's not the kind of work that I just wanted to turn over to somebody in the office and say 'Do it,'" Mr. Bryant said.
Mr. Bryant is currently in the process of interviewing all of the department heads for both the city and the county to find out what their needs may be after 20 years of growth. Population projection will also be used to forecast the amount of square footage needed for each function of government.
That information will be compiled and recommendations made to a facility steering committee about what needs to be included in the building. Initial plans include most departments being centrally located for citizen convenience. They will also be arranged for the most efficient operations.
"Our goal, our mission statement from the county and the city is to identify needs and to explore potential solutions for meeting those needs," Mr. Bryant said. "And I am not limited by either the county or the city in terms of either geography or philosophy."
Nothing is certain about the future facility right now, but the study will help local leaders define what they want from a government building.
"You don't locate a complex like this very often in the life of a community," said Thomson City Administrator Bob Flanders. "This provides us an opportunity to locate it so that it would have the maximum positive benefit for, not only the operation of the government, but for the revitalization of downtown."
So far, officials have been pleased with the process.
"The guy seems to be very confident and very methodical in his approach to it," Mr. Flanders said. "I'm certainly optimistic about it."
"Probably the most important part of it is the planning. It's something you can't hurry," County Manager Don Norton said. "That's his specialty. He's both an architect and a space planner."
What is not included in the study is how the facility will be funded. All or most of the next Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax may have to be allocated for the building, according to Mr. Norton. Construction is likely more than five years away.
McDuffie County voters passed $1.6 million to go towards the planning and land acquisition required to begin development of a city/county government complex last year.