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Architect, Land Purchase For New Sulphur Springs Senior Citizens Center Approved

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The construction of a new senior citizens center advanced two steps Tuesday night with Sulphur Springs City Council‘s potential arc approval of a potential architect and lot purchase. The final design for the new Grays Building at Pacific Park also is nearing completion as well, according to Sulphur Springs City Manager Marc Maxwell.

Voters in November 2019 approved use of up to $200,000 per year in Economic Development funds to be used to cover costs of improvements at Pacific Park and to build a new activity center for senior citizens. Prep work has continued over the last few months in readiness for the projects.

Senior Citizens Center

The prep work for the new Sulphur Springs Senior Citizens Center really got rolling in March, when the old nursing home at 301 Oak Avenue had asbestos removed from it. By March 28 the old building had been torn down. The remaining portion of the foundation slab the nursing home sat on will be used as a parking lot for the new senior center. Four large trees were also removed from the from the site recently. Damaged concrete foundation was designated for removal to be used in city street repairs.

Remaining pad of a former nursing home raze on the site where a new senior citizens center and parking lot will be built. The city authorized the city manager to purchase a 1/4-acre lot on the south end of the property to extend the site.

Dirt work is also needed to build up the Oak Avenue site where the new senior citizens building will be constructed, at the opposite end of the property from the old pad.

That project moved an additional two steps forward June 2, when the City Council approved a resolution authorizing the city manager to purchase on behalf of the city a lot at 331 Oak Avenue from Dixon & Dixon Insurance Agency LLC.

“This lot lies south of what the city already owns and Martindale Feed has a warehouse that would be bordered on the south to this lot. so it would just kinda complete that area that we have and add about another quarter of an acre,” Sulphur Springs Mayor John Sellers said. “It would give us some flexibility with building, the parking and all those things.”

The City Council also approved a resolution authorizing the city manager to negotiate a contract with an architect for design of the new senior center.

The city sent out a request for qualifications for the project and got 9 responses. From those, a Committee consisting of the city manager, mayor, city secretary, finance director, community development director, director of parks and recreation, and the senior citizens program director reviewed all of the statements, narrowing do the list to two.

The preferred architectural firm from the list is Rees Architects, of which Adam Panter is a principal architect. Panter is local. The city has had experience with him.

“We’ve worked with him. We know what it’s like to work with him,” Maxwell said, noting that Panter is now a principal architect. “One his team, something that none of the other teams had, and that is just deal with the design of senior programs. That was a big plus.”

Rees was recommended based on that experience designing senior citizens centers and their use of local engineers and talent on projects.

Maxwell asked for permission to approve both Rees Architects as well as McGee Architects, while authorizing him to negotiate a contract with Rees. If an acceptable fees cannot be reached with Rees, Maxwell is then authorized to offer the project to McGee Architects, if they meet terms.

Pacific Park

This awning has been removed from the Grays Building in Pacific Park in readiness for park improvements and construction of a new community building in the park.

Prep work has continued over the last few months in readiness for improvements at Pacific Park as well.

At the beginning of March city staff had begun removing outfield fence at Pacific Park, Maxwell reported. An estimate for the new Grays Building as designed was projected to be about $1,000,000. City Manager Marc Maxwell said after some figuring, officials estimate the cost could be cut if city crews do the site work and making a few minor design changes. City crews will end up building sidewalks and on-street parking, Maxwell said at a previous council meeting.

During the month of May, the covered awning for the existing Grays building was removed. A photo of the planned Grays Building was posted on a sign near the new site in Pacific Park. The pad the new Grays Building is to sit on is scheduled to be built up with dirt as well as well. 

Maxwell on June 2 told the County Council the specifications for this project ares still being fine tuned by city staff in an effort to keep costs down and quality up. The city is are leaning toward utilizing the construction manager method of construction, he reported.

“We want to hire somebody as our representative to be the building not the contractor. They bring in the subs, some of the subs being us,” said Maxwell, explaining that the city may be able to do some of the electrical and anticipates doing the site work. “We are trying to get as much building for $900,000 as we can get.”

Sign of future Grays Building to be constructed in Pacific Park.
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Author: Faith Huffman

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