Originally created 08/18/99

Commission prepares to accept annex bids



Columbia County commissioners say they hope to have the plans for a courthouse annex ready for bids next week -- even if a group of judges and other elected officials does not approve of the design.

"Come next Tuesday, I think, it is the end of this," said Commissioner Lee Brooks during a public meeting on the design of the facility. "If y'all haven't reached a consensus, we'll reach a consensus and pass it along to the bidders."

In late July, county officials asked for comments on a proposed list of annex cuts from users of the facility. They received six letters, most refusing to comment and slamming the county and project consultants for poor planning and cost projections.

Tuesday's meeting gave project architect Rosser International a chance to present two options to officials -- one about 1,000 square feet smaller than the other. Both, however, came in right around 73,000 square feet and $11 million.

Initial construction cost estimates were nearly $14.6 million.

But the building's design was not the only concern of some of the officials at Tuesday's meeting. Tom Gunnels, administrator for the 10th Judicial Administrative District, questioned the location of the annex.

Plans call for the building to face Washington West Drive, next to the Evans Government Center. However, the 16-acre tract purchased for the project also fronts North Belair Road -- a more suitable spot for the annex, Mr. Gunnels said.

Jason B. Smith can be reached at 868-1222, Ext. 115, or jbsmith@augustachronicle.com.