Several members of the grassroots-initiated Cultural Exploratory Committee (CEC) attended the Dec. 3 town board meeting to show their continued support for a feasibility study to determine whether Fuquay-Varina needs—and could support—a cultural arts/conference center.
Since the group’s initial appearance asking for the feasibility study, the CEC’s commitment of financial support to help pay for the study has risen from $3,000 to $15,300, all pledged by private donors.
At the meeting Fuquay-Varina Town Manager John Barlow reported that three bids were received for the proposed study. He said a committee of five staff members studied the bids and recommended Hunden Strategic Partners with subcontractors Kimley Horn and Associates Inc., and CRA Architects.
The board last week instructed Barlow to enter into contract negotiations with Hunden and prepare a budget amendment to cover the town’s share of the cost of Phase I of the project. Mayor John Byrne asked if the contract could be ready for the board by its final December meeting; however, when the manager seemed doubtful, Byrne and the commissioners agreed to ask for the report back by the first of the year.
Hunden’s price for Phase I of the study is $25,500. With the CEC providing $15,300 in private donations, the funding balance for the town would be $10,200.
Phase I would cover market analysis and determination of the need to construct a new facility to support cultural arts/conference center activities in Fuquay-Varina.
Phase II (if needed) would include site analysis, facility recommendations, cost estimates, financial projects with proformas, economic/fiscal impact analysis. The cost of phase II is listed as $38,500.
Once contracts are completed, conducting the Phase I study is expected to take 10 to 12 weeks.
Small groups of Fuquay-Varina citizens have pushed from time to time in the past several years, for some kind of cultural arts center with little success. The recent movement drew more than 100 citizens to a “visioning” meeting and has since drawn enough interest, backed up with pledges of financial participation, to lead the town board to begin a
measure of what support might be out there.
And, this year for the first time, the board has included in its Five Year Plan for capital projects, construction of a cultural arts center in the fifth year at an estimated cost of $3.5 million.
Also at the board’s Dec. 3 meeting commissioners heard a report on the town’s most recent audit (year 2011-12), presented by Eddie Burke, of the Raleigh firm hired by the town to do the annual report of Fuquay-Varina’s financial status. He lauded the town staff for its work and cooperation as the audit was carried out.
“Your town is financially sound,” he told commissioners and added, “Your town is a really well-run operation.”