Berkeley Co. rents space to store surplus

October 13, 2011|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD |

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — The Berkeley County Council Thursday approved an agreement to lease space for surplus furnishings that are now being kept in the future Berkeley County Sheriff’s Department headquarters.

The agreement with Panhandle Real Estate Trust LLC for 10,000 square feet of storage space at the former Ralph Lauren distribution center will cost the county $1,666.66 per month for five months, with a sixth month provided at no charge, according to Deputy County Administrator Alan J. Davis.

The county could extend the agreement with the Cumberland, Md.-based company on a month-by-month arrangement, if necessary, Davis said.

The storage space was needed because county officials determined the vacant Blue Ridge Outlets Crawford Building it owns could not be used because of mold problems caused by multiple roof leaks, he said.

Roof repairs to address the leaks in the Crawford building also must still be made, he said.

The surplus furnishings need to be moved so abatement of asbestos, lead paint and other toxic materials can begin in the former Martin’s Food Market at 510 S. Raleigh St., Davis said.

Jim Thompson, the county’s contracted clerk-of-the-works, told council members Thursday that abatement would start Oct. 24 and could take about three weeks.

Berkeley County obtained the furnishings at no charge from the Internal Revenue Service’s facility off W.Va. 9 in 2007, according to county records.

Davis said at least some of the surplus cubicles and furniture from the IRS will be used to furnish the new the law-enforcement headquarters.

Floor plans indicate that deputies in the headquarters will each have their own desk and no longer have to share workspace, among several other improvements, Davis said.

Pleased with the progress of the project thus far, Sheriff Kenneth M. Lemaster Jr. said the plans also include construction of a secure, two-bay garage that will help deputies securely transport anyone arrested into the building to be processed.

The garage also will be used to wash vehicles, Lemaster said.

He said the plans allow for future expansion of the department, not only for what is currently needed.

The plans for the new building also address critical space needs for crime scene processing and evidence storage,  Lemaster said.

Davis said the Martin’s building needs roof repairs, but the county also is pursuing state grant money to possibly replace it.

The council signed off in August on a $5.5 million financing plan to renovate the former grocery story, and Thompson told council members that the project would come in under budget.

Berkeley County obtained a loan for about $3.1 million in 2007 from City National Bank to purchase the grocery store building and the vacant shopping plaza where it is located on a 5.5-acre parcel.

Since then, county officials have paid about $300,000 in interest on the one-year loan, which was extended three times.

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