Another piece of recreation spending pie unveiled

Kevin Boozer Staff Writer

December 4, 2013

Kevin Boozer

Staff Writer

WINNSBORO — How will $500,000 be spent on recreation projects per district in Fairfield County?

County officials received one more piece of the answer to that question on Nov. 25 when they were told Fairfield County will seek an engineering firm or similar firm well versed in recreation projects and related matters to serve as a consultant to oversee projects in each district.

Interim County Administrator Milton Pope said during that meeting of Fairfield County Council that where possible, the recreational consultant would have option of subcontracting work out or completing work itself under a capped amount, per council approval.

Pope said the county could use the traditional method of putting each project out for bid, with each project going to the lowest bidder. Or the county could use other new techniques that permit one firm to handle the entire project.

One advantage to the new approach is that if one firm is hired, that firm will be licensed and can subcontract to local vendors, minority owned businesses or businesses managed by females.

Local vendors might be engaged in some of the work but they lack the proper licensing to bid out work with the county. If a licensed firm assumed the oversight of a subcontractor, Pope said that could open up the market to local vendors.

Council Chairman David Ferguson also pointed out potential cost savings if the county uses one firm. Ferguson said that perhaps the same plans could be used for mini parks in various districts, a duplication of labor that would save the county money.

One thing Pope spelled out is the need for upfront communications with a potential firm.

“We would not simply retain someone and accrue costs from the get-go,” Pope said.

Ideas and suggestions would be incorporated into a master list of county recreation projects.

He recommended council develop a comprehensive plan, including a master list of recreation projects, that takes into account best practices and feasibility. The master list will be broken down project by project and projected cost estimates given for each project in each district.

Council unanimously approved sending out a request for qualifications (RFQ) so county staff can pursue a firm to oversee the recreation projects stemming from the $500,000 in bond funds allocated each of the seven districts. Pope said the county could have a recommendation by the end of January.

Pope acknowledged that the entire master list is conceptual ideas at this point.

Councilwoman Carolyn Robinson questioned who would pay for any additional staffing needed for the recreation projects and said across the board budget cuts would be needed to offset additions in the budget.

But Pope said the county has the potential to receive grant funding and that those options are being explored, particularly funds from the lieutenant governor’s office related to senior citizen activities. Pope said if the county has a concrete plan, its chance for grants improves.

Councilman Kamau Marcharia said wholesome recreation, in his opinion, could move the county ahead on many levels. He was concerned about the fate of the building the county bought for the Dawkins community.

Pope said county staff would look at the building skeleton and at the structure to see if any parts of it could be incorporated into Marcharia’s recreation plan. If the building cannot be used, council will determine how it will be disposed of, Pope said.

Ferguson called talk of the building disposal “premature.” “We need to get a plan in place and have a person come in and sit down with that person,” Ferguson said.

In other business:

— Pope addressed the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s re-licensing with SCE&G. He said everything under the permit must be looked at again by 2020 and anticipates SCE&G working hand in glove with the county to use the land as before.

— Deputy Administrator Davis Anderson gave an update on S.C. 215 property that will be used for the Jenkinsville Fire Department. Anderson said the county is in negotiations with SCANA to get land for the project and that the plan has been sent to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for approval.