County officials complete secondary-roads plans


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After months of planning, the decision has been made.

County officials will now start looking for a contractor to begin work on the Johnson County secondary-roads replacement facility. The plans were approved at a Thursday meeting of the Johnson County Board of Supervisors on a 5-0 vote.

This building will replace the old secondary-roads facility, which was heavily damaged by a fire in March. The facility will include 12 storage bays, an office area, a work area, and a fitness and break area for workers. The main purpose of the building is storage and maintenance of county vehicles.

The base cost of the project is around $3.35 million, said Ament Design Executive Vice President Allen Varney. In addition to the project cost, he said, extra funding in case of contingencies is included, bringing the total cost up to around $3.7 million.

Supervisor Chairwoman Janelle Rettig said while she isn’t happy about the cost of the project, the need for a replacement facility cannot be ignored.

“I don’t think anybody’s particularly happy about how much this ends up costing,” she said. “That’s what happens when disasters happen — stuff goes to the top of the list.“

Though the price tag may be high, around $1 million of the project’s cost will be reimbursed by insurance, Rettig said.

Supervisor Pat Harney said the project is as cost-effective as it could be.

“We’re trying to do what’s best for the county,” he said. “We are trying to pull things together and be as frugal as we can.”

Several sustainability functions in the facility will create some savings for the county, Varney said. This includes occupancy detectors for lighting, high-efficiency air conditioning, and high-efficiency boilers for in-floor heating. These functions alone would normally pay for themselves in just under nine years, Varney said, but because of an energy incentive from MidAmerican, they will pay off in just 6.3 years.

The energy savings somewhat make up for the impact of losing the original building, Supervisor Rod Sullivan said.

“It’s hard to find a silver lining in a building burning down,” he said. “But if there is, it’s … a building that is more [energy] efficient.”

In addition to the MidAmerican incentive, some other potential sustainability benefits were explored, such as obtaining LEED — Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design — certification for the building. After discussion at a meeting in November, LEED certification currently doesn’t have majority support from the board. Supervisor Terrence Neuzil said this is because the certification progress is costly and the county wouldn’t receive any benefits from the certificate.

Rettig said this replacement should give the county an opportunity to solve some other problems that were presented in the old facility as well, such as a lack of storage space.

“It serves us with an opportunity to fix a lot of inherited problems [with the old building],” she said. “At the end of this construction … we do gain space.”

The county needed to finish the plans as soon as possible, Neuzil said, and the cost will be worth it in the end.

“Johnson County’s in an emergency right now,” he said. “An essential building has been destroyed.”

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