By Carol Vaughn —
The Onley Town Council voted 6-0 Wednesday, March 10, to accept a bid to build a new town hall.
The $579,867 bid, which is good for 30 days, came from Jim Wert Builder, Inc., of Belle Haven.
A second bid was from Beracah Homes of Delaware.
The council action came after years of planning and discussion, and after the town in January put out an invitation to bid for construction of a 2,500 square foot town hall.
The council will hold a public hearing Monday, April 5, at 6 p.m., to receive comments about the proposed budget for the project, which includes a 15% contingency.
The town has $339,454 remaining in funds already appropriated for the project. The balance needed to be appropriated, including the contingency amount, is around $327,392.
The building “Is close to what was designed three years ago,” Wert told the council, adding that instead of being modular construction, it will be a stick-built structure.
Plans are for a 55-by-55 foot, single-story building on a concrete slab.
It will be constructed on a town-owned lot adjacent to the current town hall.
Councilman Brian Corbin, who chairs the building committee, will serve as the point of contact for day-to-day operations during the project.
“It’s been a long time coming,” said Mayor Matt Hart just before the vote was taken.
After a Salisbury architectural firm prepared plans for an approximately 3,000 square-foot building, the town in 2018 received only one bid to build it. That figure came in at $1.07 million.
Several council members said then they could not vote for such an expensive town hall.
The council in spring 2019 approved spending $3,000 for a set of modular building plans from Beracah. After the initial set of plans was submitted in August 2019, the council held work sessions and asked for multiple changes. The committee also had the plans reviewed by a third-party engineer, among other actions Corbin detailed at the Jan. 21 council meeting, where council voted to put the project out for bid using the plans.
Corbin said then the project “has been on the table almost 12 years.”
Actions taken over the years included purchasing property next to the current town hall; tearing down a building there after problems were found; paying for the previous set of plans and more recently for the Beracah plans; and installing a well and septic on the property, Hart said during an interview in November 2019.
The council over the years has met in several locations, most recently at Onley Baptist Church, due to the small size of the current town hall, where administrative staff and the police share quarters.
Town Manager Search
The council on March 10 also discussed the resignation of Town Manager Jamye Salazar after serving 12 years in the position.
The council voted 6-0 to accept her resignation, with several members expressing regret at seeing her leave.
Councilwoman Rose Pierson made a motion to form a committee including council members Claudia Harmon and Billy D. Custis to more forward with recruiting a new town manager. Salazar said she will help with the process.