Berryville and Clarke County officials are working together on improvements to the Berryville-Clarke County Government Center Building. Outside changes could include repositioning the library return drop box while inside the building atriums may soon see artwork reflecting the areas rich local history.
On Wednesday members of the Joint Building Committee convened to discuss topics related to improving the operation of the new Government Center facility. The committee includes Clarke County Supervisor David Weiss (Buckmarsh), Berryville Councilman Allen Kitselman (Ward Two), Clarke County Administrator David Ash, Berryville Town Manager Keith Dalton and Clarke County Building Inspector Gary Pope.
Library Drop Box
One of the Government Center Building’s customer service features designed to appeal to Clarke County Public Library users is an outdoor drive-up “drop box” for returning library materials. Unfortunately, the drive-up box is rarely used.
“I’ve yet to see anyone drive through” County Administrator David Ash told the committee.
Based on Ash’s recommendation the committee plans to move the drop-box about 50’ west to the corner of the building and provide a reserved parking space for patrons returning books. In the future, patrons will first park their cars and then walk to the drop box.
Library Overdue on Door installation Authorization
The library discussion included not only outside changes but inside changes as well. According to committee members, the new automatic access doors installed in the library earlier this year were not approved in advanced by either the Joint Building Committee or Building Inspector Gary Pope.
“Gary Pope needs to see the plans that were used and they need to be right“ Supervisor Weiss said. “We’re glad that the library is here but they need to follow the rules.”
Apparently library officials did notify building officials before installing the new doors but may have been uncertain about the formal authorization process for making improvements to the facility. Building Inspector Pope is following up to insure that the door installation conforms to building codes.
More Door News
“Anytime the Government Center Building is occupied people have to be able to easily get in and out” Building Inspector Gary Pope told the committee. “Installation of panic bars will help us meet building and fire code regulations.”
Pope and the committee agreed to install a limited number of the automatic release mechanisms on certain building exit doors. The bars allow doors to remain locked to the outside; however, occupants inside the building simply press the bar to unlock the door when leaving. The bar automatically relocks the door when it closes.
Because the building serves so many purposes and meetings, access doors have occasionally been locked at the end of the day even though occupants were still inside the buidling. The new exit bars will allow quick exit from the building even when the main doors are locked.
No matter how well decorated, it’s easy for the appearance of public spaces to become dull.
To solve this problem the building committee hopes to reproduce and mount approximately 40 historic photographs of Clarke County and Berryville throughout the Government Center Building. The committee is also considering hiring interior designer Phyllis Nee to assist with the decorating approach.
Nee was instrumental in the design phase of the Government Center Building during construction.
Fiscal Agents and “Probable Litigation’
Because the town and county share the new government building there are many fees and charges that are allocated between the two respective building budgets.
How many shared charges are there?
Apparently enough that the committee is considering appointing a “fiscal agent” to administer the costs and maintenance associated with the building’s use.
One recent building maintenance line item addition that a fiscal agent may need to purchase in bulk quantities is aerosol disinfectant spray. Building users have complained of musty smells, mold and high humidity throughout the building. Attempts by the building contractor to correct the problems have apparently not been successful.
In preparation for what’s been termed “probable litigation” county officials have placed humidity / temperature recording devices throughout the building for the past three weeks. Temperature / humidity readings outside of acceptable ranges could, in theory, be used to support legal claims that the facility’s heating, ventilation and air conditioning system does not operate properly.
How serious is Clarke County’s government about a court fight over building HVAC problems?
“There’s never been a permanent occupancy permit issued for this building” Building Inspector Gary Pope told the committee just prior to entering a closed session to discuss the litigation. “Occupancy is under temporary permit now and we don’t want to do anything to jeopardize and future litigation”