JFS move too pricey for county

Price estimates to renovate two potential sites for a newly-merged Washington County agency came in last week and there were a lot of zeros.

Pickering Associates, an architecture and engineering firm, determined that the cost for the renovation of the Gilman Avenue site currently housing Job and Family Services is $357,000. Meanwhile, renovation of the Davis Avenue site that’s currently housing Children Services (as well as the county commissioners and Washington County Board of Elections) is $403,000.

Director of JFS Flite Freimann said there could be up to a 30 percent increase in the appraisal due to cost overrun, bringing the totals to $465,000 and $524,000, respectively.

His preference for the new home of Children Services and Job and Family Services? That would be 204 Davis Ave., the potential half-a-million-dollar renovation.

All of these estimates are pretty outrageous. Not only does it seem that a new building could be constructed for that price tag, but is the value of a physical merger really that great?

Children Services and Job and Family Services are operating across town from each other, not on separate continents. There would be a convenience to being in the same building but not at this cost. Plenty of businesses and agencies operate from multiple locations and do so pretty seamlessly, in this age of technology.

Freimann has said previously that there may be some funding available to the combined agency that can only be obtained if they operate under one roof. Certainly before a decision is made on any construction project, we would expect hard numbers on this potential funding. Would it be enough to make these high-price renovations worth it?

These estimates don’t even take into account additional costs of relocating other affected agencies, if the Davis Avenue site would be selected.

The county is currently facing some other expensive endeavors, including the long-fought sewering of Muskingum Township. Is this really the time to take on an pricey project that would be nice, but not necessary?

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