GREENCASTLE -- While speculation runs wild around the county about the future plans for the Putnam County Annex, county officials have said multiple times the process remains in the exploration phase. A presentation at Tuesday's Putnam County Council backed up those claims.
Eric Ratts of DLZ, the engineering and contracting firm the county is discussing plans with, made a presentation to the council of where Putnam County is the process. Ratts said a project of this nature goes in four stages, and the county remains in the infancy of the first stage: planning.
"This is typically the hardest phase," Ratts said. "Planning is the stage at which a community must decide what it wants to do about a problem, if anything.
"We're only here trying to determine what is best for Putnam County," Ratts said.
At issue is the future of the Putnam County Annex, which is currently housed at the old Jones School on Liberty Street in Greencastle. While the county has housed offices in the building for a decade now, the structure has a number of problems. These include its mechanical and electrical systems, its lack of ADA accessibility and its layout being designed for classrooms, not for offices.
Ratts told the council the county has four options: 1) Do nothing; 2) Renovate the current location; 3) Move to a new location (the old Marsh building has been considered; and 4) Build a new building.
While each plan (excluding the status quo) comes with its own set of advantages and disadvantages, all come with similar building costs, ranging anywhere from $4.3 million to $5 million.
These estimates include only what Ratts called "hard construction costs." The addition of costs such as financing, legal fees and design fees would make the cost to the county higher.
Since the process remains in the informational phase, no decision has been made. Ratts' presence at the meeting was for informational purposes only.
The council gave approval to funding for the new runway project at the Putnam County Airport. As reported previously, the Board of Aviation Commissioners is requesting additional appropriations to correct an existing vertical curve, as well as a pavement overlay for the entire runway.
The total cost of the project is going to be $4.6 million, nearly all of which is coming from state and federal grant dollars. The requested budget increase is only $22,400 spread over the next three years in the grant match line item of the airport budget.
A total of about $125,000 in local money will go into the project, but the Aviation Board has configured its budget to cover all but the $22,400 that will be covered by the additional appropriations.
The need for the resurfacing springs from new federal guidelines and the airport's increased jet traffic in recent years. Board chairman Mike Clodfelter told the council the timing of the issue is beneficial to the county, as runways need to be repaved every 20 to 25 years. When this project is completed, largely not on the county's dime, the existing runway will be 18 years old.
While the council had some questions for Clodfelter and other airport representatives, the measure met with no resistance, passing unanimously.
Putnam County Economic Development Director was in attendance on behalf of POET, which recently acquired the ethanol plant north of Cloverdale. He presented the council with a resolution making the property eligible for tax abatement.
While no tax abatement is being granted at this time, the August council meeting will feature two public hearings regarding tax abatements for POET. The first will be to transfer the abatement previously granted to Altra Biofuels on the site. The second will be for a new abatement on the $30 million in improvements POET plans to make to the plant.
The resolution passed 5-0, making the site eligible for abatement.