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Hidalgo-County-SealProblems with the renovation of the old Hidalgo County administration building have caused the project to grind to a halt and have, according to County Judge Ramon Garcia.

The contractor has threatened to walk off the job if issues were not addressed, he said, adding that there have been as many as 25 meetings to try and work out the issues.

Alex Palacios, construction manager, told the Commissioners Court at a meeting Tuesday there had been “a little hiccup in renovations plans” for the building.

Palacios said it was not known before renovation started that the two vaults on the first floor were bearing the load for the upper floors and could not be removed. Palacios referred to the lack of knowledge as a “change of discovery” that was not recognized until demolition began.

Contractor Bill Wilson of D. Wilson Construction Co. told the court the plumbing plans were not in sync. The architectural plans he had been given for bathroom renovations did not match the current location for plumbing and had to be corrected. He said the design team from Alcocer, Garcia, Associates Inc. needed to get designs that would work to him before construction could continue.

Eduardo Alcocer took responsibility for the problem with the plumbing plans, saying he had released the wrong plan to Wilson and that by the end of the day they would have the corrected plans to him.

Alcocer said there had been a “small minor time delay” due to vacation holidays; however, the design team was working on the corrections and revised plans would soon be ready. He said the building was not constructed in a traditional manner but rather was a hodge-podge of construction.

Wilson said he could not move forward until he had a complete set of correct designs. His men had done all the work they could until the plans were received.

In addition to the plumbing problems and Wilson’s discovery that two of the four vaults in the building are load bearing, the court has asked for several changes in the original plan, including a redesign of the meeting room. Wilson said he could not proceed with construction until all plans were ready.

Garcia asked Wilson what the new timeline would be if he received the corrected plans later in the day. Also, he asked about added costs to the renovation. Wilson said he would need time to study the revised documents to see if they were now correct. Then he would need time to study the plans to determine the added costs of the changes before he could answer the judge’s question. They agreed to meet later in the week to discuss costs.

Alcocer told Garcia he had not invoiced the county for the designs now being prepared. But he also needed time to re-evaluate costs of the renovations requested by the county.

Palacios told Garcia there would be credits to current construction costs for demolition of the walls that could not be taken down.

In defense of Alcocer, Wilson said the county did not get a set of plans for the building when it was purchased. The building originally was a bank. Because Alcocer did not have specific plans to go by while planning the redesign, there were things that were not discovered until demolition began.

Also Tuesday, a public hearing was held for consideration of a County Energy Transportation Reinvestment Zone (CETRZ). The county is short of money needed for transportation projects. The Texas Department of Transportation has statewide funding for projects of $224,500,000. The grant allocation for Hidalgo County is $796,051, which requires 10 percent matching funds, or $79,605, which the county does not have available. Without the 10 percent match, the county cannot get the $796,051 allocated for Hidalgo County. The money would have to be taken from the Road and Bridge Fund, where other projects already are pending.

Sergio Cruz said that in creating a CETRZ, which is similar to a TIRZ (Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone), the county could access the funds from the state. A TIRZ requires that money from any development from improvements in the TIRZ goes into infrastructure or other improvements in that zone.

Cruz said the county could establish a five- to 10-acre zone in the northern part of the county, somewhere above FM 490, that would not be developing for many years. Money from the Road and Bridge Fund would be used to pay the 10 percent match. Once the $796,051 was received from the state, that money could be used to do road projects that need renovation now across the county.

Adjustments to the Operation Stonegarden Grant in the amount of $141,640.82 were approved. The money was divided between the cities of Alamo, Donna, Edinburg, Hidalgo, La Joya, Mercedes, Mission, Palmview, Peñitas, Pharr, San Juan and Weslaco. Garcia was told that some communities such as Alton did not qualify and others like McAllen did not apply for the grant.

Eddie Olivarez, director of Health and Human Resources, told commissioners he would be back with final numbers for the Health Care Funding District at the next meeting.

Larry Gallardo, Constable, Precinct No. 3, was recognized for being elected vice president of the Texas Association of Counties’ Board of Directors.

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