Front Royal seeks more time in county building

Front Royal will seek an extension of its lease in the former Warren County Sheriff’s Office.

The Board of Supervisors approved a two-year lease on Sept. 30, 2013 to allow the town police department to use the former sheriff’s office at 23 E. Jackson St. Front Royal plans to build a new police headquarters on 5 acres the town owns on the former Avtex Fibers property.

But Town Council has neither picked a firm to design a new police department headquarters nor found a company to build the project. The town sought proposals from design firms or teams last year.

The county Board of Supervisors plans to discuss the town’s request at its meeting today.

Town Manager Steve Burke said Monday that council continues to evaluate the proposals submitted by the top three firms and to develop a design contract. Should council not reach an agreed upon fee for design services with one firm, they have two others from which to choose.

“All three are still interested in providing the services,” Burke said.

Once council selects a design firm, parties will work together on plans for the new headquarters. Most of the work on the design will happen in open session, Burke said. When the firm comes up with a design that council supports, the town will seek companies interested in building the project.

Whether another year would give the town enough time to hire a design firm, endorse their plan, award a construction contract and complete the project by the end of the extended lease remains uncertain.

The town pays $96,000 for the two years, or $4,000 per month, under the existing lease that also allows for a one-year extension. If granted the extension, the town would pay an additional $48,000 to stay in the county building.

The department had to move out of its former home on West Main Street sooner than expected in 2013 after pieces of ceiling tile that fell in the building tested positive for asbestos. The building had been a post office. At the time the town requested the lease with the county, Chief Norman Shiflett said the department likely would not need to use the county building for more than 2-3 years.

But Town Council didn’t start interviewing design firms until late November. The town received eight architectural proposals by firms seeking to design the project. Council has met several times in closed session to negotiate with some of the firms.

The town did face some delay with the project when officials needed the Environmental Protection Agency to amend the restrictive covenants on the Avtex site to allow the construction of a police department building and, specifically, overnight accommodations in the facility.

The town bought the 5.2-acre site along Kendrick Lane from the Front Royal-Warren County Economic Development Authority for $36,680 in late September 2013. The town took action after seeing a report by the BKV Group, a firm hired by Front Royal to evaluate potential locations for the police department headquarters. The firm did not recommend any town-owned buildings or properties for the new headquarters.

Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or abridges@nvdaily.com