Carbon County officials are looking at possible opportunities to expand office space.
During the county commissioners' meeting Thursday, the board approved a proposal by Person Agency Inc. of Lehighton for appraisal services at 41 and 57 Susquehanna St. in Jim Thorpe at a cost of $1,500 for both appraisals. The two properties are the Hooven building, and the former Gulf gas station. The Hooven building is currently listed for $349,900, but the listing was not published for the gas station property.
Commissioner Wayne Nothstein, chairman, said that the commissioners are exploring the option of expanding office space. Currently, space in the courthouse, annex and Susquehanna Street building is not really available.
"We have some serious space issues in the offices," Nothstein said, pointing out Adult Probation and the District Attorney's offices specifically.
He said the board is looking at the possibility to see if purchasing the properties is a feasible option for the county. The board is considering the cost of the renovations to make the Hooven building into office space, as well as costs to demolish the Gulf station to make room for an addition for other offices.
Commissioner William O'Gurek said the board has talked with the owners of the buildings and they are willing to listen to the commissioners' ideas. David and Constance Kuhn own the Hooven building and Pipeline Petroleum of Macungie owns the gas station.
"We're talking about the future," O'Gurek said. "We're talking about taking care of the county's needs for decades. We are having space limitations and we think those are the right properties."
He explained that an environmental assessment would need to be done on the gas station property.
The county will check the 100-year floodplain to see if development would be possible.
"The potential could be almost limitless if we get to that point (purchasing the properties)," O'Gurek said, adding that they could add onto the three-story building.
The county will now wait to hear the appraisals to see if it will move forward with negotiations for a purchase.
In other matters, the commissioners weighed in on Wednesday evening's Council of Governments meeting.
O'Gurek said that it was refreshing to see all the towns and townships in the same room.
"It's nice to see all parts of Carbon County working together to try and make things better, more effective and more efficient for the constituents they represent," he said.
Both O'Gurek and Commissioner Thomas J. Gerhard commended Nothstein for his efforts in organizing the group.
Nothstein said that it was a good start, but the COG has a long hard road ahead of it before everything is done.
He and O'Gurek also commended state Sen. John Yudichak and his staff for their help with getting the COG off the ground. Yudichak has had experience with starting three COGs in the area he represents.
"He stands for what the Council of Governments stands for, working together," O'Gurek said, adding that since Yudichak started representing Carbon County, he has had a strong presence at area events, and with initiatives.