Schools eye new location a block away Main offices to move from shared quarters after addition is built; No bids, proposals yet; Estimated cost for two projects is $4.5 million


Relief is a step closer for the school and court workers who for nearly a decade have shared cramped quarters at 55 N. Court St.

Work on a new home for the Carroll County Schools central offices could begin as early as November, and builders and designers from at least five companies have shown interest in submitting a bid, said J. Michael Evans, director of public works for Carroll County.

The project includes adding 30,000 square feet to the County Office Building on 225 N. Center St. The county has estimated the cost for the two projects at $4.5 million, although no bids or proposals have come in yet.

The school offices will move from the Courthouse Annex one block north on Court Street to the Winchester Building, after 30,000 square feet are added and the whole building designed to accommodate the schools. The building currently houses some school and county offices, and leases space for private offices.

The addition to the Winchester Building would allow Maryland Circuit Court to take over the Courthouse Annex. Now, it must share space with the school central offices, and both parties are cramped.

The search for a new school headquarters has spanned eight years and three boards of County Commissioners, with Circuit Judge Raymond E. Beck Sr. pressing the whole time for the space now occupied by school offices.

Evans and other county officials met yesterday with companies interested in submitting proposals by the early October deadline for the "design-build" project.

The process to build this space is different from most government projects that are put out to bid.

In a classic bid, used for nearly all school buildings until now, the schools and county would list very detailed specifications for everything from what kind of carpeting to use to where to hang the doors. Contractors then give a price for that specific building when they bid.

In a design-build process, the schools and county give a more general narrative and sketch of what they want. Contractors submit proposals, also in narrative and sketches, usually using subcontracted designers, that say how they would accomplish the project and for what price.

"The benefit is supposedly that the design-build is cheaper, but there's less control in what you get," said Kathleen Sanner, a facilities planner with the schools.

"We're going to hand off program specifications, who goes on what floor, who needs to be near whom," Sanner said.

Then it will be up to the contractor to come up with "creative" ideas for designing a building to match those needs. Evans said that although it shifts more of the design control to the builder, it also gives the builder more flexibility to be creative than if the county gave out a rigid list of specifications at the beginning of the process.

Sanner said such a process is common in commercial office space development, but less common in government buildings.

Evans said the county has been happy with the way the "design-build" process worked for the new Carroll County Health Department building off Center Street, behind the Carroll Community College annex.

Pub Date: 9/17/96

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