County wants signed Town Center agreement

Published 6:45 pm Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Board of Supervisors Chairman Dick Grice told Windsor Mayor Glyn Willis he wants to see a finalized memorandum of understanding between Isle of Wight County and the town before the board votes on whether to front money to fund the replacement of the Windsor Town Center roof.

He also wants a cap spelled out as to the maximum amount the county will contribute.

The board previously signaled a willingness at a Nov. 5, 2020 meeting to work with the town on some type of cost-sharing agreement. According to a report by Alpha Corporation, there are 2,000 square feet of wet insulation beneath the 70-year-old roof and large areas of repair where gravel has been swept away, leaving the underlying ply sheets exposed to the weather.

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Windsor had been estimating a cost of $300,000 for the project, which will entail removing the existing roof and replacing it in its entirety. The town recently received bids back from five contractors ranging from $237,700 to $333,701. Adelphia Contracting Inc. is the lowest bidder.

Assuming the town awards Adelphia the contract, the project’s total cost, including mold remediation, duct cleaning, architectural design, project management by Alpha Corporation and an 8% contingency fund, totals $358,663.

The town’s MOU with the county has been in development since 2019, but to date hasn’t been signed by both parties. The most recent draft states any capital repairs or replacements over $5,000 shall be shared by the parties on an equal basis, with the town carrying operational costs such as utilities, insurance, refuse and recycling, and minor repairs and maintenance. Joint funding of any capital improvements, such as an expansion or major remodeling of the interior, shall be negotiated via a separate agreement.

The agreement further states that Isle of Wight is to be bound by the Town Center’s rental policy when booking events, meaning users will be required to clean up afterward.

Windsor’s Town Council held a special called meeting April 5 to approve its end of the bargain, in hopes of securing the board’s vote on the agreement at its April 15 regular meeting.

The town leases the center — a former middle school gymnasium — from the county’s school system for $1 a year. The center opened its doors in November 2018 after a town-funded $1.2 million renovation that didn’t include roof work. Town Manager William Saunders recently confirmed with Isle of WIght County Schools Superintendent Dr. Jim Thornton that the roof replacement does not meet the lease agreement’s standard of “material alteration or additions” that would need to go before the county’s School Board for approval prior to beginning.

The town offers use of the facility free of charge to Isle of Wight County’s Department of Parks and Recreation for county-sponsored programs serving the central and southern regions of the county. In exchange, the county contributes roughly $50,000 annually to staff the facility during Isle of Wight Parks and Recreation activities. According to Willis, 70% of the events held in the town center August and September last year were county-sponsored programs.

The town also has allowed the county to use the facility for governmental meetings free of charge. Per the version of the agreement now signed by Willis, this will continue provided the facility has not already been booked for a paying event for the date and time of the meeting.

Contingent on Isle of Wight agreeing to the MOU, county officials have proposed funding the roof replacement upfront, with the town responsible for paying back a percentage at no interest.

“The County cannot loan money to the Town. The County would be appropriating the money for the project and the Town would be repaying half, but technically not a loan,” Saunders explained.

Councilwoman Kelly Blankenship, however, objected to Grice’s suggestion of a cap, stating it would put the burden of any unexpected expenses beyond 50% of the original cost estimate solely on Windsor.

“They’re basically saying any risk is on the town,” Blankenship said.

According to Town Attorney Fred Taylor, the way the draft signed by Willis is now worded, the agreement mandates “clear shared responsibility, fifty-fifty” for the roof replacement.

The town hopes to issue a notice to proceed by the end of April, at which time the contractor will have 60 days to perform the work.