LEE COUNTY – County supervisors have pivoted slightly in the construction of the new Lee County Health Department and EMS bay.
The county has moved from a previously engineered steel-frame construction to a wood-frame construction as a means to reduce the cost of the project by about 20%.
Carl A. Nelson is the Construction Manager on the project and originally projected a $7.7 million price tag on the steel-frame building. Project managers looked for savings in the project in the area of windows, asphalt rather than concrete, and lower ceilings which brought costs down to $6.9 million.
However, funding for the project has always been a factor in the process. In 2022, Supervisors passed a resolution to spend up to $5.4 million on the building using America Rescue Plan Act funds, of which about $3.8 million remain in an interest-bearing account.
Another $974,000 has been secured from the USDA’s Rural Emergency Health Care grant program. The county is also working with Southeast Iowa Regional Planning Commission to apply for a $600,000 Community Development Block Grant.
Last month, supervisors requested that Carl A. Nelson put together a cost estimate for a wood-frame building and those figures were released last week at $5.5 million.
Supervisor Chuck Holmes said he’s not quite sure why there is reluctance to move toward the wood-frame design.
“We’ve seen many homes here in town made out of wood that are well over 100 years old. They're still in good condition. 100 years sounds pretty good to me,” he said.
Ron Fedler said the new design is a large cost savings to the county.
“This a big deal and I agree with Chuck, if it’s built correctly out of wood, it will last a long time,” Fedler said.
Supervisor Garry Seyb said the savings was a big enough topic that he wanted the get the whole board’s input before giving Carl A. Nelson final direction.
“I have to be honest, I was not expecting the difference to be that large,” Seyb said.
“This gets us back on track to where we were at additionally with funding. There will be little cost incurred in transferring over the architectural drawings, but the cost savings at this point is where we’re headed.”
The building is planned to be approximately 14,000 square feet with two EMS ambulance bays on property that was donated to the county by the Glen Meller family. County officials will add the Meller name to the facility.
After Nelson revamps the design process, those plans will come to the county for approval and bids will be let on the project.
In addition to the USDA grant and the Community Development Block Grant, the county will also be submitting the project for consideration in Congresswoman Mariannette Miller-Meeks Community Project Funding appropriations for the upcoming fiscal year.
The county will be focusing on the USDA Community Facility account which, if approved, could add additional funding equal to about 55% of the cost of the building according 7 CFR3570 63.b of the federal code.
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