HBW subscribers interested in institutional construction job leads in Alabama will be keen to know that the Montgomery County Council has finally approved a $32 million renovation project for the Council Office Building in the Rockville.
The measure was introduced by Council member Nancy Navarro last Tuesday. Navarro’s Government Operations Committee recommended the project, although it had not been featured in the proposed funding plan for this year. There was no discussion of the project prior to the vote being taken, Although Mary Beck, the director of Capital Projects for the County Executive’s Office of Management & Budget, had mentioned the possibility of “lower-cost options” for the renovation, no comment was offered before voting began. The vote follows a series of postponements that saw discussion of the project tabled repeatedly until necessary information could be gathered.
Although the much-needed renovation was approved by 8 of 9 Council members, Council member Marc Erlich, is concerned that the timing for the project is wrong. “The building really needs renovation,” he says, “but it is not clear to me given what is happening with school construction money and uncertainly with the budget that this rises to the level of being a priority over other capital projects.”
The project will address two large concerns regarding the Council office facility, whose current building is plagued by an aging, leaking, HVAC system and bathrooms that are not ADA-compliant. The Council passed up the option to relocate the offices to the county-owned Grey Courthouse and Red Brick Courthouse, both of which needed renovation to become viable locations for the Council offices. Instead, the Council chose to renovate and expand their current facilities, located at 100 Maryland Avenue. In addition to vital infrastructural changes, there will be a major interior renovation of the entire building that includes expansion of the first floor auditorium and new windows. It is expected that the project will be complete by early 2017.
The renovation is not without community detractors, the most vocal of which is the Montgomery County Board of Education. Board president Patricia O’Neill is disappointed that the renovations are taking place in the Council offices, because the County schools are in despearte need of repair and renovation. “We have been struggling for many years,” she says, “we have 9,300 children in portable classrooms and aging infrastructure and tremendous needs for heating and air condition and bathroom improvements.” O’Neill goes on to say that, “we have kids in situations that adults in the workplace would find unacceptable and as a board of education member my job is to advocate for the necessary resources for our schools.”