A SPECIAL MEETING OF THE BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS
FEBRUARY 16, 2006
The Lake County Board of County Commissioners met in special session on Thursday, February 16, 2006, at 10:00 a.m., in Room 233, Lake County Administration Building, Tavares, Florida, to discuss building projects. Commissioners present at the meeting were Catherine C. Hanson, Chairman; Welton G. Cadwell, Vice Chairman; Jennifer Hill; and Robert A. Pool. Commissioner Debbie Stivender was not present. Others present were Sanford A. “Sandy” Minkoff, County Attorney; Cindy Hall, County Manager; Wendy Taylor, Executive Office Manager, County Manager’s Office; Barbara Lehman, Chief Deputy Clerk, County Finance; and Judy McAuley, Deputy Clerk.
Mr. Jim Bannon, Director, Lake County Department of Facilities Development and Management, explained that today’s workshop will include discussions of four building projects. (A printed copy of each presentation is included in the backup material.)
Mr. Bannon stated that numbers associated with the Downtown Tavares and South Tavares designs are based on unfinished documents and are provisional and conservative at this stage. The numbers provided for the various options are turnkey, all encompassing numbers.
DOWNTOWN TAVARES DEVELOPMENT
Mr. Robert “Bob” Egleston, AIA, Project Manager, HLM Design, Heery International, Inc., stated that the consultants, Carter Goble Lee, are programming the courthouse (Judicial Center) and jail expansion pieces of the project and a preliminary draft program may be available by the end of the month. Today’s presentation will be three options for the Parking Garage and Tax Collector and Property Appraiser Building.
Mr. Douglas “Doug” Kleppin, AIA, Lead Designer, HLM Design, Heery International, Inc., stated that common to all of the options is the component of an expansion for the central energy plant, an illustration/placeholder for the courthouse expansion and the two-story facility for the Tax Collector and Property Appraiser that fronts Main Street, across from the Historic Courthouse.
Mr. Kleppin explained that the size of the courthouse (Judicial Center) expansion affects the number of parking spaces that are available. What they are showing complies fully with the requirements from the City of Tavares. Variances might have an impact on the footprints. He confirmed that, in Option C, there is no associated parking for the Tax Collector/Property Appraiser building so people would have to park in one of the two parking decks or a surface lot.
Mr. Luis Diaz, HNTB, serving as traffic consultant, stated that the following data for parking and traffic is preliminary.
Mr. Kleppin continued the presentation by showing concept designs and computer generated renderings for the Tax Collector and Property Appraiser facility and the parking garage(s). The buildings may be a blend of the brick and precast details of the Historic Courthouse with some glass and metal panels of a contemporary office building. The idea would be to develop a public plaza that connects all the campus components.
Ms. Dottie Keedy, City Administrator, City of Tavares, confirmed that this is the first time she has seen plans in this detail. She remarked that she likes it but stated that the City Council makes the decisions.
Mr. Kleppin added that they have had some productive conversations with the City about moving forward with the process but more discussion and dialogue will occur.
Mr. Bannon stated that staff would like some direction, realizing that not all of the property is owned by the County.
At Commr. Cadwell’s suggestion, the other Board members agreed to take Option B off the table because it involves a future growth area for the jail. He stated that Option C would be a second choice but the positives of Option A, traffic flow, pedestrian flow and the ability to grow in the future, outweigh the other options. He remarked that Option A would put the Property Appraiser and Tax Collector next to the parking garage for the convenience of their customers.
Regarding Option A, Mr. Bannon pointed out that the County owns the Law Library to the north and other property to the north could, potentially, be acquired.
Ms. Cindy Hall, County Manager, advised that she and Mr. Bannon attended the Tavares City Council meeting a couple of weeks ago where the garage concept was discussed. The Council expressed the concern of taking any property off their tax roll and the legalities of acquiring property.
After discussion of Option B, general agreement was that building a parking garage on the opposite side of the jail would not realistically serve the Property Appraiser and Tax Collector.
Commr. Hanson stated that she prefers Option A even though ownership issues must be addressed and resolved.
In response to an inquiry by Commr. Hill, Mr. Kleppin explained that there are some inefficiencies (structured columns, building support, elevators and stairs) in trying to build a parking garage under an office building.
Ms. Hall asked for a vote on direction to pursue whatever necessary steps we need to take for one of the options.
Mr. Bob McKee, Lake County Tax Collector, advised the Board that Option A is far preferable for the high volume of traffic at the Tax Collector’s Office and the Property Appraiser’s Office. He stated that the people who come through their offices are the people who are paying the bills and they should be inconvenienced the least.
A motion was made by Commr. Cadwell and seconded by Commr. Pool to move forward with Option A.
Under discussion, Commr. Hanson stated that Commr. Stivender could not be at today’s meeting because of her father’s situation but she asked that her concerns be addressed. She stated that she assumes Commr. Stivender’s concern is taking property off the tax rolls, and that is a concern of the entire Board.
The Chairman called for a vote on the motion which carried unanimously by a 4-0 vote.
Mr. Bannon clarified that the direction, obviously, is that there needs to be some negotiations in acquiring the property. He stated that the architects are only contracted up to this schematic design stage. He stated that the full-blown contract will have to be amended to get the architects to move their documents to a more advanced stage but staff will not be directing them to move their documents to a more advanced stage until the Board lets them know the property has been acquired. He confirmed that he will bring that back to the Board.
Commr. Cadwell asked if it can be assumed in their action today that, if the property is purchased, staff can automatically move so that they do not need to place it on the agenda again.
On a motion by Commr. Cadwell, seconded by Commr. Pool and carried unanimously, by a vote of 4-0, the Board approved that, as soon as the property is acquired, we will automatically roll into the second phase of the contract.
SOUTH TAVARES GOVERNMENT COMPLEX
Mr. William E. “Bill” Starmer, NCARB, President, Starmer Ranaldi, explained that, before this process is completed, the Board will receive documentation that shows facilities’ needs, space charts, and interview processes with a variety of departments to document the size of the buildings. The circular campus will be about 60 to 70 acres and could be occupied by the Health Department, Public Works, Sheriff’s Operations, Public Safety including the Fire/Rescue element as well as EOC (Emergency Operations Center) and possibly EMS (Emergency Medical Services). An office or conference center, as well as ancillaries, may be included. Mr. Starmer noted that the options can be mixed and matched in any fashion.
Mr. Starmer agreed with Commr. Pool that all the infrastructure, such as stormwater, flow of traffic, parking, fire hydrants, etc. would be put in place. The various elements could be preplanned with the assumption they can be built in phases.
Commr. Cadwell stated that the campus does not work unless the Sheriff moves to the South Tavares campus.
5. Option Five. Adds the Health Department for an additional 60,000 s.f. $103 million.
6. Option Six. Adds the conference center with 10,000 s.f. which can be shared by everyone. $109.5 million.
Mr. Starmer further explained that the costs to pave the road and parking lots, bring water, sewer, power, fiber optics, and stormwater might be $5-$6 million but all that is not necessary today. Approximately $1.5 to $2.5 million might be needed to get the site ready for the first phase and infrastructure would be there to expand to handle the rest.
Ms. Hall stated that the Judicial Center (courthouse) and the jail will be very expensive buildings. The County has high bonding capacity. She suggested that we start conservatively, which might be Option One, until numbers for the Judicial Center and the jail are available. She explained that there is a possibility of receiving EOC funding from the state and that might be enough to go to Option Two. She stated that she would be concerned about starting with Option Three.
Mr. Bannon pointed out that the Board would be choosing an option to move it to more detailed drawings, not choosing an option to build at this stage. By choosing an option, such as Option One, the consultants would be instructed to move from schematic design to design development and towards construction documents. In the meantime, numbers related to the Judicial Center (courthouse) and jail come into play.
Commr. Cadwell asked the logic for showing Public Safety being built in Option Two as opposed to the Sheriff’s Operations.
Mr. Starmer answered that it probably was because of the current inadequacy of the EOC facilities.
Ms. Hall opined that we will have an answer from the state this year on EOC funding.
Mr. Bannon confirmed that full construction documents, if done now, can be used later by upgrading them to code.
Mr. Starmer estimated that the cost for the drawings going from Option Two to Option Three would be about $600,000 to $800,000, but fees would be negotiated with Mr. Bannon.
Commr. Hanson agreed with Commr. Cadwell’s concerns regarding the scheduling of the facilities and remarked that more information is needed.
Mr. Bannon reiterated that the Board can choose the elements and that the dollars associated with the Public Works and Sheriff’s elements can be provided.
Commr. Cadwell stated that the Board should focus on where we are going and decide if there is anything in Option Six that should not be at that campus in the next twenty years.
Commr. Hanson suggested that we are looking at Option One and what would go in it and the minimal amount of design drawings for the balance. The Board would be approving the concept. She opined that the Board would want to go with the least amount of money to get the complex started.
Mr. Bannon further explained that today’s presentation shows schematic designs. We would move to design development documents, looking into the structural frame and the envelope of the building. That stage allows the construction manager to run the numbers a little better and give a better understanding of the costs. After design development, we move to construction documents and the real numbers are shown.
Mr. Starmer remarked that he sees Option Three (Sheriff’s Operations, Public Safety and Public Works) being the level the Board wants to get to in solving some of the growth issues. He feels he is saying Public Works is a higher priority and maybe the Board is saying the Sheriff’s Operation is a higher priority. He thinks everyone is saying Public Safety is probably the second priority.
Ms. Hall explained that planning for the entire project involves a domino effect of who moves where and when. Staff’s thought has been that, if the downtown Public Works building is made available, it could take overflow from the courthouse (Judicial Center) because those additions will not be built for a few years. The rationale for putting Public Works in Option One is simply that the space in that building is needed. She explained that placing the Sheriff’s Operations in the third phase is simply the fact that there would be some room in the Historical Courthouse after the Tax Collector and Property Appraiser move into their new building. She remarked that she would be comfortable with Option Two and final figures can be brought back.
Commr. Pool opined that Option Two is where we need to go.
Commr. Hill asked if the Sheriff wouldn’t need to be second, even under Option Two. She asked if designs on paper are necessary to receive EOC money from the state.
Commr. Cadwell opined that we probably need to leave it as it is until we find out what is happening with the EOC money.
Commr. Hill asked, if the designs are not needed, why not plan for the major problems of parking and people downtown.
Ms. Hall suggested that, if the Board is considering Option Three now, we should consider moving forward to the design development stage of that option which will take a little time. She added that some idea of the costs of the Judicial Center (courthouse) and the jail should be available about April or May.
Commr. Pool remarked that we might be able to afford Option Two but we need to be focused on Option Three. Construction costs will continue to grow and grow. He asked how quickly dollar figures can be brought back on Option Three.
Mr. Starmer stated that he will come back to Mr. Bannon with a cafeteria plan with dollars to go to design development for Options One, Two and Three.
Commr. Hill pointed out that the cost of Option Three is double the amount of Option Two.
Ms. Hall clarified that Mr. Starmer probably is suggesting that they would come back with all of the buildings in Option Three with costs for the design development and the Board can choose the ones that will move forward.
Mr. Bannon clarified that they will come back to the Board with an amendment to the present contract with Starmer Ranaldi which allows them to go potentially to Option Three to design development phase. He asked if the EMS com center is in or out of Option Three.
Mr. Gary Kaiser, Director, Lake County Department of Public Safety/Fire Chief, stated that there is a component for a com center in the first phase of the EOC design.
Mr. Starmer agreed with Mr. Kaiser that, in terms of communication and phone call takers and dispatch, there is an element of EMS in there. He agreed with Commissioner Cadwell that, since they do the dispatch, it would be good for them to be in the EOC. The EMS office and fleet maintenance is a fairly significant number so that would be pulled out as a separate phase.
Ms. Hall asked, regarding the EMS phase and that part of the fleet, if the Board wants them to come back with the design development costs of that portion also.
Commissioner Cadwell stated that goes beyond Option Three.
Mr. Bannon stated that only the com center is under Option Three.
Mr. Sandy Minkoff, County Attorney, pointed out that the site plan for Options One through Six shows a subdivision access road because the City of Tavares approved a subdivision behind the County’s property. The County has been working with the property owner to grant access somewhere through the County’s property. He stated that his office will negotiate to have them pay the value of the right of way in some way. He explained that approval by the Board would be implied with approval of the site plan.
Ms. Hall confirmed for Commr. Hanson that staff has direction.
RECESS & REASSEMBLY
At 11:10 a.m., Commr. Hanson announced a ten minute recess.
SOUTH TAVARES GOVERNMENT COMPLEX (CONTINUED)
On a motion by Commr. Pool, seconded by Commr. Hill and carried unanimously, by a vote of 3-0, the Board approved the concept of the master site plan for the South Tavares Government Complex.
Commr. Cadwell was not present during the vote.
DOWNTOWN TAVARES DEVELOPMENT (CONTINUED)
Mr. McKee asked for a discussion of a definitive timeline for the Downtown Tavares project. He stated that the Property Appraiser’s Office and Tax Collector’s Office have very critical dates each year. Between August and January of any year they cannot be in transition. He opined that the timeline for the acquisition of the land does not need to be an open issue.
Mr. Minkoff explained that they have met with the property owners and appraisals will be completed any day. One property owner has discussed, and is amenable to, a possible swap of property downtown. The other property owner indicated they do not want to move so the ultimate result would be use of eminent domain. Acquisition of the property, through negotiations or use of eminent domain, will not impact the construction schedule because acquisition can be completed before plans can be done. He added that there was direction from the Board to acquire the property by whatever means necessary and that would include eminent domain.
Mr. Egleston stated that they do not know what is underground on the southwest corner property and there may be some environmental issues. Some sub-surface investigations need to be done in order to design the foundation system.
Mr. Minkoff pointed out that we are authorized, under the statute, to do environmental assessments and other tests on the property beginning immediately.
Mr. Egleston opined that documents could be finished in the six to seven-month range and it could take approximately eight months for Centex to build the project. At the outside, that would be a year and a half. If they know the Tax Collector and Property Appraiser need to be in the building by August, they can take that date and work backwards to see when construction should begin. He confirmed for Mr. McKee that August 2007 is a realistic date and, conceptually, sounds right. He stated that they can work with Centex on a timeline.
Regarding the timing of eminent domain, Mr. Minkoff further explained that the statute requires 30 days notice after appraisals are done. Appraisals will be done and the process can begin, most likely, by the first meeting in March 2006. Eminent domain could start in April and, by June or July, the property would have been acquired. He stressed that the goal, obviously, is always negotiation.
SOUTH TAVARES GOVERNMENT COMPLEX (CONTINUED)
Commr. Cadwell stated that, even if the Sheriff’s Office is not moved, his fleet maintenance is a big problem and is a small portion of the whole project. He asked to look at those additional costs.
With agreement by the other Commissioners, Mr. Bannon will roll the Sheriff’s fleet maintenance into that option.
Commr. Hill noted that, per the presentation drawings, the Sheriff’s fleet maintenance is included in Option Three.
DOWNTOWN TAVARES DEVELOPMENT (CONTINUED)
Mr. Bannon confirmed that he will enter into negotiations with the architects to start moving toward construction documents for the parking garage and the Tax Collector’s and Property Appraiser’s building as approved under Option A.
CITRUS RIDGE LIBRARY
Mr. Bannon clarified that the Citrus Ridge Library is in for DRS/permitting and it is anticipated to go out to bid around April 2006, subject to Board approval, with construction anticipated to begin in June 2006. Completion is anticipated in July 2007. He advised that the images were, in essence, approved previously. Today’s goal is approval as the aesthetic for the project and approval to go out to bid.
Mr. Ward Friszolowski, AIA, Senior Vice President, Harvard Jolly, stated that the exterior imagery has been modified to better fit with Cagan Crossings. The roof shape was changed to a standing-seam metal hip roof and some of the cornice lines have been changed. Some of the window fenestrations have changed and there are useable shutters and some segmented arches. This is in line with some of the earlier graphics. He confirmed that the windows bring in natural light and are energy-efficient tinted glass.
On a motion by Commr. Pool, seconded by Commr. Cadwell and carried unanimously, by a vote of 4-0, the Board approved to go to bid for the design on the Citrus Ridge Library project.
SOUTH TAVARES GOVERNMENT COMPLEX (CONTINUED)
Regarding the plan with the EOC and in talking about 60,000 square feet for the fire department, Commr. Cadwell stated that he assumes that includes the dispatch and some administrative offices for Lake-Sumter EMS.
Mr. Bannon stated that he will clarify that.
EXPO HALL AND FAIRGROUNDS IMPROVEMENTS
Mr. Bannon explained that the Board previously approved a $6 million budget for the expo hall/fairgrounds improvement project. Today’s presentation includes options/phases based on input from Mr. Greg Mihalic, Director, Lake County Department of Economic Development and Tourism. The dollar amounts are total project costs, including construction, all soft costs and architect fees.
Mr. Ronald “Ron” Lang, AIA, NCARB, Harvard Jolly, showed an aerial view of the site which is on the corner of County Road 452 and County Road 44. The site includes parking areas, four older metal buildings and the expo hall which is about 16,000 square feet. The intersection has traffic concerns and problems and CR 44 will be re-routed. A 100-year flood plain runs across the edge of the site and the site has extremely poor soils. It is wet much of the time on the leading edge. Part of the costs will provide for a complete drainage system for all the grass parking areas. There is one tiny wetlands area on the site. The metal buildings are more than thirty years old and are without options for renovation to any degree but there is an option to renovate the existing expo hall. Mr. Lang began his presentation with the sixth option, Option F, which is the ultimate build-out.
Commr. Pool asked for an explanation of $2.3 million for site work and Mr. Lang explained that would add about 18 inches of dirt. That project cost includes 10% for inflation over the next year as well as all fees and soft costs. A large water collection system will be put in so that water will run back through the pond to the area in the back of the site. Mr. Lang pointed out that a lot of those costs would not be necessary if the soil was good.
Commr. Cadwell asked if there is any value in the existing out buildings and what will happen with the current functions in those buildings. Mr. Lang advised that there is no value to those buildings. Mr. Bannon added that it would be very expensive to bring those buildings up to code.
Mr. Mihalic advised that the current functions would have to be held in the existing hall. Surveys indicated that more meeting space is needed. He reiterated that the soil issue is a substantial part of the costs.
Commr. Cadwell stated that people pay for exhibits inside the hall during fair time but flower shows and such do not generate revenue.
Mr. Mihalic opined that it will mean spending more money to have those options.
Mr. Lang confirmed that the existing out buildings could be kept, without renovations, under any of the options. Parking Lot 3 could be adjusted or not done.
Mr. Mihalic confirmed that the fair board was involved with preliminary discussions but probably has not seen these drawings.
Commissioner Cadwell pointed out that discussion on the fairgrounds has been going on for thirteen years and nothing has been done. He expressed concern that we may be putting more money into a bad site.
Ms. Hall stated that next week’s meeting with the City of Eustis may include a discussion on swapping some land.
Mr. Jim Stivender, Jr., Director, Lake County Department of Public Works, stated that the City’s property has a similar soil situation but is more acreage. The current site is about 28 acres.
Mr. Mihalic explained that he spoke with Eustis Mayor Jonnie Hale about the possibility of swapping the current site for 40 acres across from Trout Lake Nature Center. He stated that the extra acreage would probably have to be mitigated substantially, because of poor soil, so there is a question about gaining any net usable acreage.
Eustis City Commissioner Frank Royce stated that the fairgrounds site is at a poor intersection and is not on a major highway. He stated that it is a poor, small site and everything on the site is worn out. He explained that the City’s property is two miles east on County Road 44, the bypass. He stated that more than 40 acres may be available. He explained that the City is looking for a site for a new police department, another fire house and housing for EMS in the area of the fairgrounds. He stated that the City could probably use the existing buildings even though it may be more than the City needs. Commissioner Royce opined that the bypass will be a major road through northeast Lake County, probably coming from the Wekiva Parkway, by about 2020 or 2025. He asked the Board to consider the City’s property because it would provide easier access and would be better than trying to fix a poor piece of property in a poor location. He explained that 70 acres of the original 90 might still be owned by the City but it may be two parcels. He noted that the City Commission has not discussed the swap issue.
Mr. Stivender explained that there is a huge problem now at the curve at CR 44 and CR 452. County Road 44 will be straightened.
Commr. Pool asked if anyone has a problem with looking at the City’s site which may be larger.
Commr. Cadwell suggested that swapping land may solve one problem but the price tag will go way up. He stated that we cannot do it with $6 million even if it was a perfect piece of property. He reiterated the concern of sinking money into a bad location.
Mr. Mihalic stated that everyone knows the current site is constrained and the fair board has said they would like more space.
Commr. Cadwell stated that the fair board has said if the County finds a property and builds one building, they would use tents or build the other buildings as we go along. Throughout the years, every site that has been suggested has been unsuitable to one party or another.
Commr. Pool pointed out that Option D shows $2.3 million for site improvements and Option E shows $4.1 million. He stated that he cannot be convinced, if the other location were made available, that $4 million would not give you what you need in a site package.
Commr. Cadwell agreed that it might but there would be no building.
Commr. Hanson agreed that the other site should be looked at in more detail.
Commr. Pool suggested that staff should look at the site, give an assessment, tell us how many acres are available and bring the information back soon.
Commr. Hanson stated that whatever we do, we will have to phase it in and still need to take advantage of the existing buildings.
Commissioners Cadwell and Pool again expressed concern at putting more money into the current site which might not be usable in the next five years.
Mr. Mihalic suggested that if there is another site we could phase development at that site, let the fair operate and build around their schedule. We thought that we would not be able to use many of the facilities for year-round use while under construction. We would lose about a third of the site, during construction, and would only have the fair and the Thursday market.
Commr. Royce reiterated that the Eustis City Commission has not discussed this option but he talked to the former County Manager about it two years ago. He confirmed that the City does not have money to build their projects at this time.
The Board agreed that they need more details on the City’s property. Staff will explore the option. Preliminary information might be on file.
Ms. Hall stated that staff will bring information back for discussion with the City of Eustis next week.
Commr. Hanson suggested that 40 or 50 or 100 acres somewhere else might be a better option if the City’s site does not work.
Commr. Hill pointed out that site work and a new hall in Option C will cost $10 million.
Commr. Pool stated that there is value in the current site.
Mr. Stivender opined that the County’s land and location is far more valuable than the City’s site but, transportation-wise, the City’s site would work a lot better.
Ms. Hall confirmed that $6 million is earmarked for this project.
There being no further business to be brought to the attention of the Board, the meeting was adjourned at 12:10 p.m.
CATHERINE C. HANSON, CHAIRMAN
JAMES C. WATKINS, CLERK