Officials: Pavilion won't be affected by flood plain
Kerry Craig | News-Telegram Assistant Editor

Feb. 9, 2005 -- With the hiring of an architectural firm early last week, county commissioners say the equine pavilion project at Hopkins County Regional Civic Center is good to go.

The Hudson Group, architects and engineers in Grand Prairie, was selected by the Civic Center board and the commissioners court as the low bidder for the project, according to Hopkins County Judge Cletis Millsap.

"The reason we had looked at them was their architect fees were only $25,000. We had looked at architectural fees as high as $89,000," Millsap said. "We felt like they could bring the project in at $750,000. That is why we chose this group."

Staying within budget will enable the construction to be paid for with that portion of the city's hotel occupancy tax earmarked for the Civic Center.

Although the configuration and shape of the proposed facility may have to be adjusted, the judge said the overall size of the building will stay the same at 64,400 square feet.

One of the first projects will be to ensure the plans for the pavilion will fall within the requirements of the city of Sulphur Springs' building code. Millsap said once the requirements are met, he hopes the project will move ahead.

"I hope we will get started as soon as we get all the paperwork in," Millsap said. "Mr. Hudson is meeting with city personnel about city codes and we are in hopes we can get all these questions that will come up about the pavilion being in code and moving along in the process of getting this building constructed."

In a joint meeting of board members and county commissioners last month, architect W.C. Ferrell, whose $89,000 fee proposal was the highest, said he had met with city officials about the code requirements.

He also said at the meeting he felt the proposed site of the pavilion would be in a federally designated flood plain area and would require approval from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Millsap said Civic Center Manager Joey Baker followed up on the flood plain concerns and found the building site would be adjacent to, but not in, the flood plain.

"FEMA's main concern is with the floodway, the narrowest of the issues we have to deal with here," Baker said. "The flood fringe is the wider area, and our construction inside the flood fringe is not of any real concern for FEMA. It is when we get inside the floodway they get pretty restrictive on what we can and cannot do."

According to plans, none of the proposed pavilion will get into the flood way, but will be partly in the outer boundaries of the flood fringe.

FEMA has no specific requirements the project must meet. The building permit to build in the fringe area is administered by the city.

The county will haul in dirt to fill the area and bring the level up high enough to be above any projected flood level.

"You have got to build this thing up and get the soil samples so that you know that when the piers are dug and concrete is laid, we know the structure is sound from an engineering standpoint," Baker said.

Baker also said he had no way of knowing if there would be any problems with the city, and the architect is researching the issue.

"What FEMA told me is they have a minimum amount of requirements," Baker said. "The city can go with [FEMA]'s minimum established requirements, or they can add requirements to it based upon what they feel necessary."

For now, however, Millsap said making sure the pavilion meets the city's building code requirements is the last step before the actual start of construction on the equine facility.

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