By Gary Nelson
Senior staff writer
County commissioners will discuss the future of the proposed Big South Fork Visitor’s Center during next week’s county commission meeting.
During last week’s budget committee meeting, Cumberland County Finance Director Nathan Brcok reported the re-bid of the Big South Fork Visitor’s Center project was completed and the low bid came in at $604,000 and was submitted by W&O Construction.
The county has received grants in the amount of $480,000 from the state, $25,000 from Rural Development and is supposed to receive $120,000 of funding from the city of Crossville.
Brock also reported that Upland Design had additional architectural fees of $4,700, there were engineering fees of $4,100 and inspection fees of $17,500, for a total of $26,292 in additional fees. There are also $16,000 of architectural fees that the county is contesting but Brock said, if you include those fees as well, the total comes to $42,000 above what was anticipated for the project.
“I am just giving you a report on this for your information and for the county to discuss,” Brock said.
“I believe it’s time to either fish or cut bait here. I don’t see the sense in debating this whole project again here for hours. It’s going to have to be decided by the county,” said 1st District Commissioner and Budget Committee Chairman Harry Sabine.
“Has TDOT seen the new plans and approved the project yet?” Sonya Rimmer, 8th District commissioner asked.
“No, it’s up to the county to approve first and then send it to TDOT for its approval,” Brock said.
In August 2012, Cumberland County officials discovered the BSF project had to be re-bid before Oct. 1, 2012, or the federal eligibility for the visitor center project would expire. The county also had to have an updated environmental document before funding for the project could be re-obligated.
Due to the recent passage of the new Transportation Bill (MAP-21), federal funds must be obligated prior to Oct. 1, 2012. After that date, the federal eligibility for visitor center projects expired, according to Neil Hansen, enhancement coordinator with the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT).
Hansen also said in a letter to the county that, due to the county’s delay in moving into the construction phase of the project, the federal funding was de-obligated at the request of the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) in May 2009.
The prior bids on the project were rejected because they were either too much or because the county did not follow guidelines because the bidders did not complete the forms accurately. Therefore, the state and federal guidelines would not allow the bid to be accepted.
Commissioners then approved up to $5,000 in funding for the environmental study and advertising costs for soliciting bids on the project.
The county commission meeting will be Tuesday, Jan. 22, at 6 p.m. in the large courtroom of the Cumberland County Courthouse. The public is welcome to attend.