Polk offices may move out of Jervey-Palmer

Published 3:46 pm Thursday, July 10, 2008

Polk County commissioners are again looking for a new home for the county offices currently located in the old and inefficient Jervey-Palmer building in Tryon.

Officials appear to be taking a second look at the former Carolina Classical School on Skyuka Road as a primary option.

Commissioners met Monday and discussed at length the question of doing an architectural study on the Jervey-Palmer building to see what repairs need to be made. By the end of the discussions, commissioners agreed that the Meeting Place Senior Center, the department of social services (DSS) and county mental health and veteran and juvenile services offices need to be moved out of the building regardless of needed repairs.

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&dquo;There&squo;s nothing safe about that building,&dquo; said commissioner Harry Denton. &dquo;I don&squo;t see any reason to spend any money on it.&dquo;

Harris Architects had sent a proposal to commissioners saying they&squo;d study the Jervey Palmer building to give estimates of what repairs need to be done. Commissioners decided to let Harris Architects take that money and see what upgrades and/or expansions of Carolina Classical School could be done to house all those offices. They also discussed completing the move in stages in case costs are high.

Denton cast the sole vote against spending $7,500 for an architectural study on the Carolina Classical School building, which the county previously considered purchasing to house the offices in the Jervey-Palmer building. Denton said he is on the social services board and the board decided then that the building, which has not yet been sold, was not adequate and not in a good location.

Commissioners have been discussing the inadequacy of the Jervey-Palmer building for some time and began several years ago considering relocating those offices or building a new complex.

The building commissioners are considering was never identified by officials on Monday as the Carolina Classical School. They referred to the building only as the building they previously considered for such a move. But last year, moving the social services department to the Carolina Classical School building was apparently under consideration, because it was made public that the social services board did not want to move to the building.

Commissioner Tom Pack said he wanted to do a study of the Jervey-Palmer building only because he thought social services wanted to stay in Jervey-Palmer when it rejected a new location last year.

&dquo;Did we not look at another building and DSS said they&squo;d rather stay?&dquo; Pack said. &dquo;I&squo;m confused. I thought that&squo;s why we looked at fixing this building. That&squo;s why things take forever (in this county).&dquo;

Problems needing attention at the Jervey-Palmer building include a roof that needs replacement because of frequent leaks, kitchen repairs for the senior center, pest control and inadequate restrooms that lack handicapped accessibility.

Denton said a few years ago the building had a sewage backup problem and a smoke test was done to find leaks. He said there were so many leaks it looked like smoke bombs went off in the building.

&dquo;In the kitchen,&dquo; Denton said, &dquo;the old boilers cost $2,000 to $3,000 every fall to get them running. And the wires look like a jungle down the hall.&dquo;

The Jervey-Palmer building was originally constructed in 1920 as St. Luke&squo;s Hospital. It was enlarged in 1954 and 1956. The building was listed on the state historic preservation office&squo;s study list in 1994, which means it could be eligible to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places.