City approves contract for Sphar plans

Published 10:05 am Friday, July 19, 2019

The reality of renovating the Sphar building inched closer Tuesday when the Winchester Board of Commissioners approved the architect’s contract to develop plans.

The commissioners voted 3-2 to spend up to $48,000 to GRW for additional architectural services for the project.

The city has been working on a project to save the 138-year-old former seed warehouse for several years. Earlier this year, the commissioners voted to demolish the building after bids came in well above available funds.

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The current plan is to use the available funds for a scaled-down project, where about two-thirds of the building would be torn down and leave the original structure to be a welcome center, as required by the state’s $1 million transportation enhancement grant.

“The state wants us to try and save a building,” City Manager Matt Belcher said.

“We have come this far and we need to do this bid,” Commissioner Kitty Strode said. “If we can save part of this building … I think it’s a real win-win for this community.”

said Mayor Ed Burtner, who voted against the contract with Commissioner Shannon Cox.

He said a decision needs to be made on the project. He cited a recent incident where two people were found living in the building and started a fire.

“In one sense, it’s an easy choice,” Burtner said.

Jon Rollins of GRW said the bid process could take seven to 21 days to complete, and the project is probably 60 to 90 days away from being advertised for bids.

“We won’t know until it’s bid,” Belcher said.

Preliminarily, Rollins said the project could be completed with available funds with a 6 percent contingency left over. The standard is a 20 percent contingency, he said.

Between the grant, city funds and a pledge from The Greater Clark Foundation, there is about $1.25 million available.

Belcher said previously demolishing the building and filling the lot could cost between $250,000 and $400,000. The city has already paid about $67,000 to GRW for services already rendered.

In other action, the commissioners:

— authorized the placement of two signs for a proposed African-American Heritage Trail project on city-owned property at Heritage Park and the corner of First and Washington streets.

— approved a perpetual maintenance agreement with William Reese for an unbuildable lot on Nunnelly Court.

— reviewed the estimates for the city’s road paving list for 2019. The proposed total is nearly $273,000.

— approved a request to reverse the direction of a one-way alley between Wheeler and Burns avenues.

— approved a street closure request near Heritage Park Saturday for a movie night.

— voted to purchase a sign honoring veterans and Purple Heart recipients.

— transferred Matthew Van Hauter from firefighter/paramedic to single role paramedic.

— accepted the resignation of Sabrina Griffett as school crossing guard.

— reclassified John Quisenberry, Cody Epperson, Dallas Gross and Asha Nanda from firefighter I/EMT to firefighter II/EMT and then to firefighter III/EMT.

— reclassified Steven Bellot from firefighter I/PRM to firefighter II/PRM and then to firefighter III/PRM.

— reclassified Leighton McNabb, Blake Gabbard and Trevor Bloom from police officer III to police officer II.

— reclassified Kelly Webster, Matthew Sturgill and Jon Best from police officer II to police officer I.

— reclassified Tina Pendleton and Jeromy Burkhart from communications officer II to communications officer I.

— hired Kara Puckett as administrative assistant.

— hired Adam Wilson, Jansen Thomas and Mesha Daniel as communication officer III.

About Fred Petke

Fred Petke is a reporter for The Winchester Sun, the Jessamine Journal and the State Journal. His beats include cops, courts, fire, public records, city and county government and other news. To contact Fred, email or call 859-759-0051.

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