Building project takes first step

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Editorial: Dec. 21, 2012

ISSUE: County government's space needs
OUR VIEW: Study is wise first step

Hardin Fiscal Court’s first step toward developing a new county government center began where it should: At the beginning.

Before venturing out in search of appropriate property or drawing up blueprints or artistic renderings, you first must decide what’s needed. In a massive undertaking of this nature, that’s not simple.

County government stretches far beyond the confines of the 78-year-old structure in the middle of Elizabethtown’s Public Square. The R.R. Thomas Government Building occupies a two-story building the length of a city block. The county attorney’s staff is divided in two structures. The former jail on Mulberry Street is occupied as well.

In all, a new building would be asked to meet the needs for decades to come of 10 governmental departments and more effectively serve the 100,000 people who live here.

ICON Engineering’s legwork, research and expertise actually suggests the offices and meeting spaces, when properly aligned in a building designed for present purposes, could fit in less net space than now is occupied. That could be accomplished with shared public areas and multipurpose conference rooms.

In all, industry standards would suggest 59,000-square feet, according to ICON’s recent assessment completed for Hardin Fiscal Court. While the project is a long way from a final development plan, the early estimate puts the price between $12 million and $14 million. Based on industry standards for cost per square foot, that price does not include any land acquisition expense or site preparation.

At that kind of cost, it’s good to see county government moving forward judiciously and getting the appropriate research and input first.

In its present budget, Fiscal Court members included $500,000 to pursue design plans. The first $19,800 allotted for this comprehensive survey and study appears to have been well spent. 

This editorial represents a consensus of The News-Enterprise's editorial board.