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Downtown Centre sale expected this month

With the Downtown Centre sale expected to close in a couple of weeks, members of the Washington County Public Records Commission are making decisions about storage space in the former jail facility and the county office building.
“Here’s our timing on vacating the Downtown Centre,” Mayor Dan Eldridge said during the Nov. 3 meeting of the PRC. “From the date of closing, we have 60 days to be out. That would give us to the end of January.”
Clyde Kidd, of Beeson, Lusk and Street architects, provided a report on a study he conducted of both buildings to determine the quantity of records each could hold.
The jail facility, he said, was designed to hold 200-250 pounds per square foot, which equates to 1,300 boxes of records on both the second and third floors.
“It would appear we need to increase the density of boxes on both floors,” Dr. William Kennedy said. “I think we’ve all realized from the beginning this building would be inadequate for storage. We need to increase the density for the greatest capacity feasible from the beginning.”
The former jail will serve as overflow storage space for public records that cannot be stored in the county office building that will house the archive.
Eldridge said the metal bars inside the jail need to be removed right away, adding the project would have to be bid. Early estimates did not indicate the price for scrap metal would cover the removal cost.
Money for the removal of the bars and preparation of the area for storage will come from the archive account, which held $74,250 at the end of October.
Ned Irwin made a motion to authorize the mayor to have the bars removed, which was seconded by John Kiener. The motion passed unanimously.
Another motion was made by Kennedy and seconded by Ginger Jilton to authorize the architect firm to evaluate the building afterward and make recommendations for increased density and any necessary structural reinforcement.
While there are no original drawings of the county office building, Kidd said its design could not support use as purely storage.
According to Kidd, the building contains some non-load-bearing partition walls that could be removed to increase space.
Kennedy made a motion to ask BLS to conduct the necessary studies and prepare design plans for the reinforcement of the first and second floors to maximize storage capability. Kiener seconded the motion, which passed unanimously.
Security needs for archive contents and visitors’ belongings, in addition to ensuring the building meets the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act, were also discussed.
A search continues for an archivist to work at the facility. Eldridge suggested members of the Public Records Commission review the applications already received to determine if there is a large enough pool of good candidates.
Approximately 15 applications have been received.