IT'S AN EMERGENCY - Vital records are in danger
Hillcrest roof will be fixed; a portion will be repaired right now w- Council Meeting This Tuesday
Part of the roof at Hillcrest Square is leaking so badly it can’t wait a year for roof replacement and new air conditioning to be done, the Laurens County Council has decided.
Under an emergency procurement, the county will choose a contractor to immediately re-roof a portion that “covers” the Assessor’s Office. Inside, the office employees cover valuable paper records with a tarp every time it rains.
The county council has know about the situation for a year, and attempted to solve it through a contract with the Trane Company. That contract eventually was rejected by a majority of the council, and the issue went back into the hiring-a-consultant phase.
County Assessor Jim Coleman and others said the water entering the building issue cannot wait another day to be addressed by the Laurens County Council.
“This is the roof of the old Roses building,” Coleman said. Hillcrest Square was a mall-type shopping area in Laurens before it was re-purposed into a judicial and services center, taking court functions out of the historic courthouse in downtown Laurens. Last year, the county opened an administrative annex that took the place of offices on Church Street. The county still owns the historic courthouse and the Church Street office building - it is examining renovations and re-purposing for both buildings, in addition to paying for a new roof and new HVAC at Hillcrest.
A bond might be sold by Laurens County to repay the roof-HVAC money and to construct a new EMS building on land behind the Laurens County Memorial Hospital. Getting money that way will take months.
County officials said the worst leaks in Hillcrest must be fixed now - mold is growing inside the judicial-services center.
It was likened to a situation faced by Spartanburg County where an $8 million “fix” has turned into a $26 million replacement. For Laurens County, the overall roof replacement will cost $812,000 and replacing the HVAC will cost an additional $750,000 - the county does not have the money, but it can pull from reserves to get the work started while a bond is being sold. The bond will be repaid through countywide property taxes.
The worst-leaking part is known as “Roof A” and it is 18 years old, the council was told at its regular meeting last Tuesday. This meeting was conducted in a conference room of the Hillcrest Administrative Annex, because the council chambers in the historic courthouse was being used as a central reporting location for Republican and Democratic primary elections.
Some money was left over from the bond that built the Annex, so this money will be tapped first to replace “Roof A,” the council was told.
“If we punch holes in the roof (during HVAC replacement), we’re right back where we started,” Council Chairman Joe Wood said. If the county replaced all the HVAC it would take until Dec. 1, and then re-roofed the entire building it would take through January, 2018.
Coleman said the situation with “Roof A” definitely could not wait that long. The county can start replacing “Roof A” in “a couple of months,” council was told.
Public Works Director Rob Russian said the roof has been patched so much it can’t be patched any more. The problem now, he said, is in the foam between the roof and the ceilings of offices inside the building.
“This is a complete deterioration of the roof itself,” Russian told the council. There are no warranties still in place for the Hillcrest Square roof.
Council discussed taking action to shorten the bid time on this project, but was told this might not help. This is the time of year when roof companies are working on schools, the council was told, so all the contractors are busy.
“Still, money talks,” Council Vice-Chairman Keith Tollison said in urging action sooner rather than later on “Roof A”.