The county’s building and grounds committee approved moving forward for the second month in a row for construction work on the county’s highway department garage.

This week the panel approved a motion to consult with county attorney Philip Burnett to determine the legality and relationship of a design-build project.

Design-build is a method in which one entity — the design-build team — works under a single contract with the project owner, which would be the county, to provide design and construction services. One entity, one contract, one unified flow of work from initial concept through completion.

Last month the committee approved a motion to move forward seeking proposals.

Wendell Wilson, 6th District commissioner and building and grounds committee chairman, asked Cumberland County Finance Director Nathan Brock his opinion.

“The county doing a design-build project is a bit cloudy. I would recommend attorney review. Normally, you would hire an architect for design and specs and send out for a competitive bid. Here, you would send out an RFQ (request for qualifications)and choose the most qualified under professional services, then select a contractor from competitive bid … I would suggest if you want a design-build type of project to go through the county attorney. I have not found an example of a county doing this process,” Brock said.

Kyle Davis, 2nd District commissioner, asked, “What about last month’s action of going forward with an RFP, or an RFQ?”

Wilson said he thinks they could move forward with that still after checking with the attorney.

Davis then moved to have the county attorney research the legality of design-build project relationship.

Rebecca Stone, 3rd District commissioner, supported the motion, but added a friendly amendment the county move forward with the RFP if the design-build relationship was not OK.

Brock said, “If the attorney says it’s OK the committee, from someone, is going to have to get the specs of what you want for the building. The information for the design with a cost estimate.”

“Then we need the same list of specs for hiring an architect so we’re bidding apples to apples,” Stone said.

David Gibson, 4th District commissioner, said, “Normally, you’d get an architect to get with Scott (Blaylock) to see what you want to get done, get the specs and bid it out. It’s worked for years the traditional way.”

Colleen Mall, 9th District commissioner, asked, “Is there a cost savings to doing it this way?”

Wilson said, “We think so.”

Brock explained the way the project would work if it was OK’d by the county attorney.

“The county would advertise for design-build services RFP, then choose from those companies,” Brock said.

The motion was approved in an 8-1 vote. Jerry Cooper, 7th District commissioner, voted no.

“I think we ought to do this the traditonal way,” Cooper said.

The project would be divided into three phases.

Phase one is the office building, which needs roofing repairs, new windows and sheetrock repairs in several places. 

Phase two of the project is a new garage building directly behind the office building. Cumberland County Highway Superintendent Scott Blaylock previously submitted a rough draft of a 80- by 100-foot metal shop building. The building would have three bays for working on large vehicles, with two of the bays having a pit underneath rather than lifts.

Phase three of the project would be tearing down the old garage and replacing it with a hoop-style structure for storing salt, gravel and cold mix supplies and would be done much later after the first two phases were complete.

The committee will discuss the project again during next month’s meeting.

Gary Nelson may be reached at gnelson@crossville-chronicle.com