by Bill Mardis
Construction bids for Somerset’s $8.5 million energy center will be advertised April 15 in the Commonwealth Journal and the proposals will be opened at 2 p.m. May 8 at Somerset City Hall, according to Somerset Mayor Eddie Girdler.
Girdler said OK was given Monday by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to advertise for construction bids. Plans for the project were approved last month by the Kentucky Department of Housing, Buildings and Construction.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Community Facilities Program has approved an $8.5 million loan to build the center. The loan will be repaid with natural gas revenues and no taxpayers’ money will be involved, Girdler said.
The mayor said architects for the energy center –– Brandstetter Carroll Inc., a Lexington-based group of architects, engineers and planners –– also will publish the construction bids in Dodge Reports, a publication of construction projects and building plans that goes to contracting firms that may be interested in building the energy center.
The center will monitor the city’s vast natural gas pipeline network and serve as city hall. The building’s four floors, including a basement, will house city hall offices and an emergency command center with police department space.
The 36,200 square-foot modernistic, glass-bedecked structure will be located on what is now a city parking lot at the corner of East Mt. Vernon and College streets. The area will be expanded by demolition of the former Meece Hardware building on the west side of the parking lot; the former city utilities building on the west side of College Street north of the parking lot; and the current city utilities building on the east side of College Street just north of Somerset City Hall. The existing city hall facing East Mt. Vernon Street will be torn down to make way for a parking lot.