Kamas building construction will be detailed at open house
November 15, 2016
South Summit residents have grown increasingly concerned about the pace of construction on the new county services building in the Kamas Valley, according to Matt Jensen, Summit County's risk and procurement administrator who is overseeing the project.
Escalated bids and a longer-than expected design period have significantly delayed completion of the 18,000-square-foot Summit County Services Building, which will house the Kamas branch of the Summit County Library, DMV and county medical services, such as Valley Behavioral Health. The services were temporarily relocated throughout Kamas when the building was demolished in May.
An open house to talk about the schedule for construction and design of the new building will be held from 5:30 p.m. until 7 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 16, at Kamas City Hall, 170 North Main. The open house will feature a brief presentation of the floor plans and renderings of the building, followed by an opportunity for questions.
"There is a lot of interest in the building and while we have had several meetings internally, we haven't had any with the community at large. A lot of people in Kamas have asked about the pit. Some have even speculated that we aren't rebuilding the building and we just tore it down," Jensen said. "We want to invite the neighbors in to see the building that is going to be built and answer any questions they may have. We want to review the schedule with them and, hopefully, get them a little excited about it."
Construction crews have been seen on site daily and recently began preparing to lay the foundation for the building. Officials are now anticipating the project to be complete in August of 2017.
"That's the construction date that we are now shooting for, though it is about three or four months later than I had hoped for," Jensen said.
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In September, county officials considered delaying construction until the spring of 2017 after bids came in more $1 million over budget. However, the Summit County Council agreed to allocate an additional $400,000 toward the project for the coming budget year and listed the completion of the services building as the county's top priority project for 2017.
"There is just a lot of uncertainty in the community right now," Jensen said. "One of the things we heard the pushback on is that we demolished the building in May, but haven't made much progress."
Jensen said when the Public Works Department demolished the building in May it saved the county nearly $100,000. But, he added, officials anticipated starting construction sooner.
"We have a lot of questions out there partly because of that extended duration where there wasn't much work being done," Jensen said. "We want to have this open house to make sure we are good and everyone else is good with the way things are going."
Once complete, the two-story building will accommodate the previous services, in addition to a new senior center, a 1,900-square-foot space for public meetings and an 800-square-foot computer classroom. Kamas City is also considering developing a park near the new building, Jensen said, adding few details about it are currently available.
"We are excited about this project and it represents the council and the county's commitment to ensuring necessary services on a scale that will help anticipate growth in each of the corners of the county," Jensen said. "It will be great for a community center in South Summit and we want to let them get past a few of the questions and confusions they may have. We want to make sure it is a project they can rally around and are excited about."
More than 6,000-square feet in the new facility will be dedicated to the Kamas library. It will include an auditorium, the computer lab and larger, more varied spaces for adults, children and teens.
Lee Whiting, manager of the Kamas Library, said business has significantly dropped since the library was relocated to the Kamas Health Center building, next door to the Food Town shopping center. Whiting estimates total traffic has fallen about 30 percent.
"We have a limited collection, our space is very small our hours are very limited right now," Whiting said.
Whiting said library staff will soon begin holding conversations with the community about expanding the collection and programs offered through the library.
"We are in the early stages of getting some focus groups together with some school district partners to try and detail what our complementary role is with the school district in early learning," Whiting said. "We are just very excited about the possibilities and what we will be able to do for all ages because we can do so much better for our community."
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