STARKVILLE — Oktibbeha County supervisors on Monday left plans for tearing down the old Felix Long Memorial Hospital building in limbo and sent an architecture firm hoping to design the work back to square one.
After hearing a proposal for demolition plans from Columbus-based Major Design Studio, supervisors voted 3-2, respectively, to reject, then table, the proposal. Ultimately, they voted unanimously to request qualifications from firms to design “county projects,” including the Felix Long demolition.
The old hospital building, located at 106 Felix Long Drive off West Lampkin Street, most recently housed the county’s Extension Service office before that agency, along with several others, were relocated to a county-owned facility on Lynn Lane. Once the building is demolished, the county has discussed building another administrative facility in its place.
On Monday, Major Andrews IV and Ryan Ashford, with Major Design Studio, offered to design the demolition plans for 8 percent of the total demolition costs, which they estimated would be $396,000. That would see the county pay nearly $32,000 for those design services. The firm also is looking to design the facility that replaces the old hospital building, a project that would be approved separately.
The county does not have to request qualifications from multiple firms for professional services unless the cost for those services is more than $75,000. Still, board president Bricklee Miller, who represents District 4, pushed to request qualifications anyway instead of hiring Major Design Studio directly.
Complicating the discussion was the board’s decision to pursue federal Brownfield grant funds through the Golden Triangle Planning and Development District, which it voted to do moments before Major Design Studio presented its proposal. The Brownfield money, if the county receives it, would pay for testing and inspecting the building for asbestos and other hazardous materials, Phyllis Benson with GTPDD told the board.
Ashford said even with that money, the county would still need plans for abatement and demolition, and the firm had taken asbestos into account when forming its estimate.
Both Ashford and Benson noted that any demolition plan for the Felix Long building would be subject to Mississippi Department of Archives and History approval, since the building is a Mississippi Landmark.
While Miller said she wanted the county to pursue grants for the entire project — including design and demolition — District 2 Supervisor Orlando Trainer expressed a desire to “build a team” with Major Design Studio and GTPDD. Then he moved to hire the firm, seconded by District 3’s Marvell Howard. That failed 3-2, with Miller, District 1’s John Montgomery and District 5’s Joe Williams opposing.
Williams then moved to table the discussion until the board’s Aug. 15 meeting, and that passed 3-2 with Trainer and Miller opposed.
Howard asked Miller why she opposed, and she noted she wanted to request qualifications from other firms rather than simply table Major Design Studio’s proposal for further discussion. Trainer then acquiesced to Miller, moving to request qualifications.
Ashford told The Dispatch after the vote that the firm would submit its qualifications through the county’s process.