Study: More than half of county departments facing space needs

Oct. 23, 2013 @ 05:02 AM

A little more than 50 percent of the county’s departments require immediate and/or future physical space, according to a space-needs study for the county that was released this week.

Tim Sherman, of Sherman Architecture PLLC, presented his findings and report — his second space-needs study for the county since 2006 — during the Lee County Board of Commissioners meeting Monday. Sherman was contracted for the work earlier this year.

More than a dozen departments have “immediate or future” space needs, including the health department, social services and several of the departments located at the Lee County Courthouse, and another dozen with “no or minor” space needs, according to the report. Commissioner Chairman Charlie Parks said the staff will review the report, and the findings will be incorporated into the upcoming budget process and capital improvement list.

Questionnaires were sent to county department heads to gauge their current and future space needs, the projected number of department employees and space that is now being provided but may not be needed in the future, Sherman said, and he then interviewed the department heads and toured the county facilities. 

“It should be noted that the information provided in the questionnaire concerning projected increases in personnel and the type of spaces needed by a particular department [was] not questioned by Sherman Architecture PLLC,” according to the report. “This is not, nor should it be considered an efficiency study of the various departments listed.”

In the vast majority of the cases, the report continued, the office found the responses to be justified and conservative in nature.

This was a particular point that needed to be emphasized to the public, according to Lee County Commissioner Jim Womack.

“This is not meant to diminish your report at all,” Womack said during the Monday meeting. “Personally, I can’t take the conclusions of the report as seriously as I would if I knew these numbers were qualified.”

The Clerk of Court and the District Attorney’s Office are the two departments with the largest future and immediate needs, respectively, at the Lee County Courthouse facility, according to the report. Solutions to the spacing concerns were part of the report, including possibly relocating the Lee County Probation Office or Clerk of Court, or adding a 15,000-square-foot addition to the courthouse facility. 

Commissioner Robert Reives said he was concerned about presenting several of the solutions from the report to the public when not all of the solutions are economically viable.

“I always get nervous when someone says construct,” Reives said.

The following departments have significant immediate and future space needs, according to the report: Clerk of Court, District Attorney, Magistrate, Lee County Probation, Sheriff’s Department, Health Department, Social Services, Community Development, Library and Senior Services.

The following departments having no immediate space needs, but significant future space needs: General Services, IT.

The following departments have minor immediate or future space needs (less than 500 square feet): North Carolina Cooperative Extension, Soil and Water Conservation, Parks and Recreation, Register of Deeds.

The following departments have no immediate or future space needs: Administration, Finance, Human Resources, Strategic Services, Emergency Services, Daymark Recovery Services, Sandhills Center, Board of Elections.