Stokes County and Forsyth Tech are starting planing work on the construction of second building on the new Forsyth Tech campus int he Meadows community following the passage of the Connect NC bond package in March.
County Manager Rick Morris said he had been contacted by Forsyth Tech asking for initial approval from the county to spend $800,000 constructing a second building on the new campus to be used for vocational education classes.
He noted that under the bond package the county would have only qualified for $500,000 for the project but that Forsyth Tech was adding $300,000 of additional funding to the plan.
Morris noted that the plans were still very general and that there were many more planning discussions needed with Forsyth Tech before any plans were finalized.
Commissioner Ernest Lankford questioned whether the college needed to build a new building or if it could instead renovate the old prison building which is located next to the campus.
“I feel like that needs to be looked at at least,” he said. “It seems like they have already made a decision about what they want to do and we don’t have any say in that.”
Other commissioners agreed that renovating the existing structure could be an option to be considered, but said they were happy with whatever Forsyth tech wanted to do.
“We need the trade education location over there,” said Commissioner James Booth.
Commissioner Ronda Jones said she felt it would be more attractive to have a second, new building on the existing campus and questioned how much it would cost to renovate an older building to meet the required codes for a trade school.
“There are a lot of things that these newer shops would have to abide by,” she said.
Commissioner Jimmy Walker agreed, saying that he had never seen a renovation project that had cost less than constructing a new building.
“We could have gotten $500,000 by proportion and we are getting $800,000,” he said. “I say ‘thank you Lord’ and lets not mess with it.”
“The prison would have to be totally gutted and the only thing you could keep would be the outside hull,” said Chair Leon Inman. “You would have to see what you could use there.”
Morris said the issue would be on the board’s next action agenda to approve, noting that approval of the idea for a second building would just be a starting point.
Nicholas Elmes may be reached at 336-591-8191 or on Twitter @NicholasElmes.