By Sally Voth -- email@example.com
WOODSTOCK --Preliminary plans show that converting the old Edinburg Middle School into a special-needs school and renovating the historic county courthouse would cost an estimated $5.7 million, the Shenandoah County Board of Supervisors learned Thursday.
Ben Motley, of RRMM Architects, presented partial site and design plans to the panel.
Last September, the supervisors agreed to enter into an interim agreement with Caldwel and Santmyer Inc., which had submitted an unsolicited Public-Private Education Facilities and Infrastructure Act proposal to the county.
That agreement resulted in a 35-percent project design, 80-percent site plan and a cost estimate done by RRMM Architects.
Remaking the old school into an educational facility for emotionally disturbed and autistic students, as well as a space for the Shenandoah Area Agency on Aging senior center and parks and recreation programs, would be the larger of the two projects.
"As a firm, we always try to be very respectful of the context that we're working in," Motley said.
That's why the school's large front yard will be preserved, he said.
Motley said the school was in good condition.
"The facility has not been messed with a lot over the years," he said. "There's not a lot of things that have to be undone. In our opinion, it's a good investment for redaptive reuse."
On the first floor, there would be three classrooms for autistic students, a multi-use classroom and a training room as well as the cafeteria and gym.
"One of the main challenges of this project ... is there's five different floor levels," Motley said.
The cafeteria is several feet lower than the main floor, while the gym is several feet higher. There is a raised stage in the gym, as well as a second story.
Elevators would be added to the school, as well as Americans with Disability Act-compliant ramps.
The entrance to the school would be through a second-floor vestibule, which, because of the site's grade, is ground level at the rear of the building. That would be in a new addition, which would have a horticulture classroom on the lower level.
Besides a vestibule and waiting room upstairs, there would be a director's office, a conference room and five classrooms for students with emotional disturbances.
"We really are able to use a whole lot of the existing school," Motley said.
While the school's "bones" are good, he said, the electrical and plumbing systems need to be replaced. The windows will be replaced with ones that will keep the school's historical integrity, according to the architect.
While the Edinburg school project would cost an estimated $4.4 million, the courthouse plan would run around $1.3 million, Motley said.
The latter project would include upgrading the mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems, as well as stabilizing the structure, Motley said. He said the exterior is in pretty good condition, but recommended that the roof be replaced.
The historic courtroom, which is in the original 1700s portion of the courthouse actually requires the least amount of retouching, Motley said. A visitors' center is planned off of one side of the courtroom, and Shenandoah County Historical Society offices on the other.
Judge's chambers would go where the holding cells are off of the more modern courtroom.
And, the former clerks' offices would be converted into two community rooms, according to Motley. The building would also be made ADA-accessible. Offices and a work room for the historical society would be upstairs, he said.
Assistant Shenandoah County Administrator Mary Beth Price said the next step in the process would be a comprehensive agreement.
"You need to respond," Motley said. "Have we hit the mark? Do we need to adjust anything?"
If the board approved of the plans, the fine points of a comprehensive agreement would be negotiated, he said.
Supervisors Chairman Conrad Helsley said the board would be taking the plans under consideration and thinking of some further questions.