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Bogle backs downtown central office

SALISBURY — The county’s director of building code enforcement has urged county leaders to consider 329 S. Main St. for the schools’ central office location.
But at least one Rowan County commissioner said the memo board members received Monday from Pete Bogle did not spur their vote to push a decision on the South Main Street site into 2014.
Bogle, a former business associate of Bill Burgin, architect for the proposed downtown central office, told county leaders the price and benefit of the building were worth it.
“Now that the project costs for the other considered sites have been analyzed and reported, I’d like to encourage you to carefully reconsider the 329 S. Main St. site,” Bogle wrote to commissioners prior to Monday’s county meeting.
“As an architect with an urban planning background, I certainly see the benefit of the 329 location. I would encourage you to consider voting in favor of the 329 site for two simple reasons: 1) it is the least expensive solution and 2) it provides the greatest benefit to the greatest number of Rowan County citizens.”
Bogle went on to discuss the cost in detail, breaking down the price per square foot. He also said the central office, by itself, will not generate enough economic growth in a different location.
Chairman Jim Sides apparently didn’t welcome the input.
“While I appreciate your perspective on this issue, I am a little concerned that you persist on giving advice when it is not solicited,” Sides replied to Bogle. “I would venture to say that there are certain factors involved, that as an architect, you are not aware of, or possibly some that you choose to ignore.”
Vice Chairman Craig Pierce said he respects Bogle as an architect, but said the memo didn’t affect his views on the site.
“Pete is a real smart guy,” Pierce said. “Anytime he gives us information we always consider the content of his emails to see how it fits into the project, but there was a whole lot more than just Pete’s letter.”
Pierce said county leaders had only a few days to look at the information provided about the project’s cost and said he asked for the January meeting date because there is only one commissioners meeting in December.
Pierce said some of the estimates provided seemed “questionable,” specifically, he said, an omission of parking costs.
“Those costs need to be identified,” he said. “When it’s all said and done, it’s all taxpayer money. It just depends on what funding stream it comes from.”
School Board Chairman Richard Miller, who presented the renewed proposal for 329 S. Main St. to commissioners on Monday night, said some have suggested to him that the county’s delay is better than an outright rejection. He said he’s still assessing the decision.
“What else needs to be studied? As long as this site has been on the table, what else do you need to know?” Miller said. “I believe we’ve answered every objection.”
The county is failing to recognize the authority, Miller said, that the school board has in choosing the central office site location.
“We’ve deflected torpedoes, we’ve answered questions; still not getting approval is mind-boggling,” he said.
Still, Pierce said project proposals typically come with 30- to 45-day review periods for the board to “take apart the proposal and see how everything shook out.”
Pierce said critics point at the current board and say commissioners are prolonging a 25-year-old debate.
“It hasn’t been going on for 25 years with this board,” Pierce countered. “All of a sudden people want to put it to this board like it’s our fault that this hasn’t been resolved.”
When asked about frustration at the delay, Pierce said the lack of progress with the central office has begun to fatigue those involved.
“It’s starting to wear on all the commissioners as far as we just can’t seem to move forward,” Pierce said. “I think everybody is getting weary of this project that just can’t seem to come to an end.”

Contact reporter Nathan Hardin at 704-797-4246.

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