By Bill Short
The Millington School Board voted unanimously this week to negotiate a contract with an architectural firm for a study of possible renovations to the Harvell Civic Center.
Board members took the action Monday night during their regular monthly meeting on a motion offered by Roger Christopher and seconded by Chairman Cody Childress.
Dr. David Roper, superintendent of Millington Municipal Schools, has said the firm approved for this study must determine the cost to create a “fully functioning” Performing Arts Center out of a renovated Civic Center.
Georgia Dawson, the school system’s deputy superintendent, told the board that Requests for Qualifications were sent to six firms, and five responded. She noted that Oscar Brown, the system’s supervisor of Operations and Transportation, “looked carefully” at all five.
Dawson acknowledged that, when doing “this type of thing” with an older building, it is necessary to have “some kind of experience.” She said the administration sought a firm that had done some work with a facility similar to the Civic Center.
“We need a good, thorough look at this,” she noted. “We don’t want any more surprises than we possibly can have.”
Dawson said that, in Brown’s review of the information provided by the firms, The Spirit Architecture Group “stood out,” because it “did the work” for Tipton-Rosemark Academy when it converted its gymnasium into a performing arts center.
She also noted that one of the “main architects” in the firm is a graduate of Millington Central High School.
Because Dawson believes all Millington residents want a facility they can be “proud of,” she said the administration “felt really good about this.”
“Mr. Brown thought this was an excellent opportunity for us,” she noted. “So, that’s our recommendation to you.”
Deea Lester, Purchasing/Contracts/Inventory specialist for the school system, said she and Brown looked at the TRA gym, which was built in the 1940s.
Although the original gym floor was retained, Lester said there is a small lobby inside the entrance and two larger ones on the side.
While noting that they “walked around the stage,” Lester said the facility has plenty of backstage and work room, as well as a “significant amount” of unused space on the side.
“You can tell it used to be a different building, just like when you add onto a house,” she acknowledged. “But it’s nice flooring.”
In response to a question by member Larry Jackson, Childress said the board was not yet being asked to spend any dollars.
Bruce Rasmussen, the school system’s supervisor of Financial Services, said the vote authorizes the administration to “go into discussion” with The Spirit Architecture Group.
“We’ll talk about the scope of the work that we want done and get a pricing on that,” he noted. “And that has to come back to the board for approval.”
By Bill Short