WINCHESTER — Design work for a new Frederick County Office of Elections/Voter Registration location is finished, and the Frederick County Public Works Committee is recommending the project go out to bid.
County officials hope to move the office from the County Administration Building at 107 N. Kent St. in downtown Winchester to the Sunnyside Plaza Shopping center off North Frederick Pike (U.S. 522). In 2019, the county purchased the 10.5-acre plaza, which includes a 70,614-square-foot shopping center, over a need for more office space.
During Tuesday's Public Works Committee meeting, Public Works Director Joe Wilder said ZMM Architects has completed design work for the new office, which would be located in a 2,600-square-foot space previously occupied by a hair salon. The existing elections office is 1,000 square feet.
Wilder said the plan is to demolish "everything" inside the former salon. For the most part, the exterior will remain intact. The renovated building would include a large lobby, offices, a small kitchen, bathrooms, and storage space for equipment, voting machines and ballots.
Wilder said the estimated construction cost is $400,000. The committee unanimously recommended that the Board of Supervisors get construction bids on the project, possibly as early as December.
If the bids come in around $400,000 or lower, the next step is asking the county's Finance Committee and Board of Supervisors to appropriate money for construction. According to Wilder, the project should take about nine months to complete.
Also at the meeting, Wilder said there has been an issue with sinkholes in the Shawneeland subdivision by Cherokee Lake. While the sinkholes have previously been discovered and closed off, they continue draining water from the lake. Wilder said the county contacted Viola Engineering to see if there are any solutions to the problem.
"What we want to do is go in there and use some of the latest technology to at least determine the extent of the cavity," Wilder said. "Can we find a [sinkhole] network underneath it? At the end of the day, the basic thing we need to do is make this safe. We don't want a 20-foot deep hole in the bottom of the lake, you know, that's eight feet wide. We're going to have to fill it with something."
Wilder also said Whit Wagner is stepping down from the Public Works Committee for health reasons. He said the county will likely name a replacement early next year.
Attending the meeting at the County Administration Building were Chairman J. Douglas McCarthy and committee members Bob Wells, Gene Fisher, Gary Longerbeam and Harvey Strawsnyder.