Pittsboro commissioners move forward on new $16.5 million town hall

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(The above rendering is courteously of Hobbs Architects and the Town of Pittsboro.)

Pittsboro’s Board of Commissioners advanced a plan this week for a new town government facility, estimated to cost more than $16.5 million. 

The new town hall would be a three-story building, would serve as the board commissioners’ new meeting chamber and would house the Board of Elections and Health Department Administration for the next 10 years. It will be located on West Salisbury Street in downtown Pittsboro. 

The facility will also contain a two-story parking deck, costing the town more than $2.8 million. At one point, Commissioner Michael Fiocco balked at the cost of the deck, saying it would cost the town more than $24,000 per space.

The plan, which was presented by Chevon File and Taylor Hobbs of Hobbs Architects, passed unanimously after roughly 30 minutes of discussion. 

Hobbs and File told commissioners that the project may start receiving bids as early as July, and that construction is scheduled to start in August of this year. It is estimated to take 15 months to complete. 

The construction will also require a large section of Salisbury Street to be torn up and repaved to build a new sewer line and storm-water extension. The commissioners also considered a plan to repave the other side of the street to match, which would cost nearly $40,000. 

Much of the time was spent debating the relative merits of a full-building diesel generator versus a partial-building natural-gas generator. The partial generator would cost roughly $105,000 versus more than $245,000 for the full-building generator, according to Hobbs’ estimates.

Town Manager Bryan Gruesbeck argued for the full-building generator, despite the increased cost and noise, because he said he had been in situations with partial generators where only a few outlets worked during power outages. He also said the new town government facility could be a place for residents to seek shelter and power during such outages. 

Commissioner John Bonitz suggested that the town consider full solar battery backup instead of generators, despite the high costs involved, because it could potentially be funded by grants, would reduce or eliminate noise and would be more eco-friendly. 

Commissioners already plan to spend roughly $15,000 to make the new town facility “solar-ready.”

After the vote, commissioners discussed the possibility of having a garden or art installations on the grounds of the new town hall facility, saying there could be a competition to determine who might appear in the space. 

Commissioners also estimated they would spend: 

  • $167,282 on an audiovisual system for the building 
  • $40,000 for a card reader security system 
  • $45,829 for a fire pump 
  • $42,566 for window coverings 
  • $110,000 to relocate an overhead CenturyLink cable 

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