By Sarah Hogsed
Register News Writer
The Madison Fiscal Court has selected an architectural firm to design the $4 million expansion of the county’s emergency operations center.
The magistrates voted Monday to approved the bid by Murphy Graves Architects during a special-called meeting. The company is based in Lexington.
Architects with Murphy Graves designed the Madison Family Court building in downtown Richmond and the new Madison County EMS building on the Eastern Bypass across from EKU’s stadium. The firm also is involved with projects to upgrade emergency operations centers in Rockcastle and Powell counties, according to its website.
The Madison County emergency operation center project is being funded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency in preparation for the destruction of chemical weapons at the Blue Grass Army Depot. The site houses 523 tons of VX, mustard gas and GB nerve agent, and the neutralization process, which is required by international treaty, is set to begin in 2018.
The U.S. Army wants the center to be operational around-the-clock by 2016, according to Carl Richards, director of the Madison County Emergency Management Agency.
The county received eight bids for the project’s architectural contract. Upon completion, the building on South Keeneland Drive will be 13,000 square feet, or nearly double the size of the current structure.
Richards said after evaluating the paperwork and information submitted by each of the eight architectural firms, four were selected as finalists.
Last week, a panel interviewed representatives from each of the four firms. The panel consisted of Richards, Chemical Stockpile Emergency Preparedness Program Director Michael Bryant, EMA Communications Officer Dwayne Brumley and three outside contract consultants to FEMA.
Richards said while Murphy Graves did not have the lowest bid for the project, the firm was the “best bid.” Project cost is important, he said, but selecting the lowest-bidding firm without looking at the company’s capabilities and standard labor rates could result in additional costs later on.
“We think we have the right people for the job,” Richards said.
The panel took its recommendation to the fiscal court, who approved the contract.
When construction on the project begins in the late summer or early fall, the county’s emergency operations will move to Berea and be housed with the Berea Joint Information Center in the Dresser Building and the Berea EOC in the basement of City Hall.
The county’s operations will occupy those locations for about a year, according to Richards.
The current EOC building in Richmond houses the EMA’s 15 employees, the county fire departmen headquarters station, the rescue squad and the coroner’s office. The Joint Information Center, which is operated by the EMA, is in a separate building next door that houses the county 911 call center.
The 911 center will be moved into the EOC after the building is expanded..
Richards said that although the chemical destruction is slated for completion in 2021, the improved emergency operations center “will serve this community for decades.”
Sarah Hogsed can be reached at email@example.com or 624-6694.