By Catharin Shepard
The Hoke County Board of Commissioners will meet Thursday to hear proposals from several architect firms interested in designing the county’s first public swimming pool and recreation center.
The board will reconvene Thursday at 9 a.m. in the commissioners’ room in the Pratt Building on Main Street to interview design firms that responded to the county’s Request for Qualifications (RFQ) to build the proposed recreation center.
Commissioners originally hired Bobbitt Design-Build of Raleigh to design and construct the recreation center, but earlier this year the board decided by 3-1 vote to end its contract with the firm and seek another designer.
Commissioners decided to hire a different firm to split up the design process and construction process in order to save money, Commission Chairman James Leach said at the time.
“We feel like we can save thousands of dollars by not having it design-built,” he told The News-Journal in May.
Work on the Parks and Recreation center had not gone beyond early visualizations of a possible layout and an estimated price tag of $15 million, about $5 million more than Leach stated the county was looking to spend on the project.
Commissioners have discussed various features they want to see in a final design for the rec center. A swimming pool, basketball courts, a walking track and classroom space are among a few of the possible offerings planned for the center.
The public pool would be the first of its kind for the county, and if built to regulation size, could also allow the Hoke High swim team to practice and hold local competitions.
The county commissioners earlier this year purchased about 30 acres of land on U.S. 401 from property owners Neill and Linda McNeill and intend to build the recreation center on the site. The board approved the roughly $549,000 purchase at a meeting in January.
The unaddressed property is located near the intersection of Scull Road and U.S. 401. The parks and rec center would take up about eight or nine acres of the property, leaving room for future expansion at the site.
The commissioners will also meet to interview candidates for the Hoke County Parks and Recreation Director position, and two assistant director positions. The open positions were posted for applications earlier this year.
Robert A. Wright Agriculture Center
The county maintained its contract with Bobbitt Design-Build to plan and construct the county’s new agriculture center, named the Robert A. Wright Agriculture Center in honor of longtime Commissioner Bobby Wright. Commissioners approved the final design for the $4 million ag center and plan to start construction later this year. The agriculture center will be located next to the Hoke County Health Department on Palmer Street.
The Robert A. Wright Agriculture Center will feature office space for the county cooperative extension, a test kitchen and a catering kitchen, meeting rooms, classrooms for 4-H and other programs. The building will have backup generators and double as an emergency shelter during natural disasters.
The county set aside money from the budget into a reserve fund to help pay for the two buildings. There was about $6 million in the fund, which will be used to entirely cover the cost of the agriculture center construction and part of the Parks and Recreation center. Commissioners have been working on the two projects since 2017.