Supervisors eye annex renovation

JOHNSTOWN – Fulton County supervisors may move forward with a plan to create more storage space at the Fort Johnstown Annex through a modest structural renovation.

The county’s Building & Grounds Committee last week approved listing the proposed renovation among those being considered for capital projects in 2014. Supervisors still would need to formally approve the project for it to be included in next year’s budget.

The project would essentially be an extension of a 2012 project that created functional storage space for more than 2,500 legal-sized boxes in what used to be the second floor of the centuries-old county jail.

“If we’re going to pursue the same project on the first floor, it looks like we’ll be able to create space for an additional 1,000 boxes,” Senior Planner James Mraz told the supervisors’ committee.

The original building was constructed in 1772 as the Tryon County Jail and served as the Fulton County Jail until 1979. It now houses the Planning Department, as well as the Personnel Department, which keeps many records in old jail cells.

“There is a nonstop generation of new documents for that department,” said Mraz. “The use of space is very inefficient. You have to walk into cell blocks to get things.”

The county already has spent $2,600 on engineering and design work. The project, which likely would cost between $29,000 and $36,000, would include the removal of half of the building’s jail cells, as well the construction of three steel support columns on new concrete footings to help support the floor, Mraz said.

The additional support in the basement would be needed because some of the jails cells that would be demolished double as support for upper floors, he said.

Half of the jail cells on the first floor would be preserved for residents still interested in the building’s history, Mraz said.

The building also serves as a central archive for county documents, including records from the clerk’s office and records from the Residential Health Care Facility, which was sold to a private owner last year.