The Columbia County Commission budgeted $6,000,000 for a swimming pool…a pool that the voters rejected in a general bond referendum. But this is Ron Cross and the Columbia County Commission, so you know that the story is not finished. Aaaaaaaannnnnd here we go.
On July 17th, Donnie Fetter informed us about the status of the 47,200-square-foot exhibition hall. Turns out that the lowest bid was close to $7,000,000. Fetter stated, “architects with Blanchard and Calhoun Commercial included several luxury items that added to the cost”. OK now, 1) why is Blanchard and Calhoun involoved? Ron Cross, why is one of your biggest supporters involved in this, even after voters rejected it, you burried it in a SPLOST proposal (as you did the Washington Road project…A STATE PROJECT)? 2) Ron Cross, why do you constantly ignore the will of the people? 3) Barry Paschal, when…oh when will you start asking the questions?
Last week, though, county Construction and Maintenance Services Director Matt Schlachter told commissioners in a committee meeting that the lowest bid came back at nearly $7 million.
Rarely does the county underbudget on a project, but in this circumstance, Schlachter said, architects with Blanchard and Calhoun Commercial included several luxury items that added to the cost.
“We’re going to … take out some of these higher-priced things the architect wanted us to have,” Schlacther said. “We’re going to put it back down to where it’s still a nice building, but not above and beyond what the county needs to have.”
Officials had hoped to complete the facility by December, in time for The Family Y to start selling memberships for January — a time when many seek out gym memberships to fulfill New Year’s resolutions. Schlachter now expects that the building won’t be ready until next summer.
If you are not mad by now, maybe this will help get you there. Fetter wrote, “The Family Y signed an agreement with the county in January to lease about half the exhibition hall for a fitness center. The deal is worth $320,000 a year for up to 10 years.” The voters rejected this once, so Ron Cross had to sneak it through in a SPLOST package…he really wanted this construction project to be under his control. If the Family Y is paying “$320,000 a year for up to 10 years,” why couldn’t the Y’s executive branch build its own pool? The Family Y on Wheeler Road has an advanced state of the art aquatics center that was built through private donations. However, the facility is only for those with disabilities who are receiving therapy. Even still, no SPLOST, just the community pitching in and raising more than $1,000,000.
Ron Cross, this was done in Richmond County. Why can’t something similar be done in Columbia County, especially when you ramble on and on about how high the per capita income is? Why do you still ignore the people? Why are you so eager to spend tens of millions of dollars on project after project…even projects that the state is responsible for? Barry Paschal, you claim to be such a devout fiscal conservative, why are you not attacking this wasteful spending? Don’t tell us it’s not your style because we have given numerous examples of you attacking ordinary citizens. Ron and Barry, please tell us the truth.