ITALY — The Italy Economic Development Corporation moved forward with plans to demolish the buildings at 100 and 108 E. Main St. at a called meeting and public hearings Monday evening.

Following two public hearings, the board approved a resolution (R11-0207-01) that approves the moving forward of phase 2 of the Italy Community Center Improvements Project. This project initially authorized the expenditure of $50,000. The resolution authorizes an additional $45,000 be added to the initial authorization to proceed with further renovation of the buildings. This project amount of $95,000 includes demolition, engineering and architect services and related pre-construction planning tasks.

Before it can proceed, the IEDC must receive approval from the city council.

During the public hearing, three residents had questions relating to the demolition phase of the two buildings.

Jimmy Hyles asked whether the IEDC was going out for bids for the projects.

Mark Stiles, IEDC president, said they did plan to go out for bids but wanted to use as many local contractors as possible during the demolition project.

Hyles also questioned whether the group would use a local construction manager for the project.

Ed Voss, city attorney, said that could be an option but said state law requires a performance bond and a payment bond for the project to guarantee the government entity for performance failure. He added that, without these bonds, it could put the city and IEDC at risk.

Stiles said they would not necessarily need a construction manager for the demolition phase.

John Droll questioned whether the IEDC planned to retain salvageable material.

Stiles said they wanted to retain whatever materials were possible but said they could answer much of that once they opened bids.

The second public hearing sought input on the design of the community center project.

Darrell Rosemond, committee chair, briefly outlined initial plans that include a multi-purpose state of the art building that includes Internet access, overhead projector, television reception, a kitchen, a stage and divider walls.

Hyles said they were discussing the inside but he wanted to know more about the outside portion of the project.

They briefly discussed a metal façade verses a brick exterior. Hyles said they needed to save the brick from the current building to use.

Hyles told the board there were certain rules they had to go by relating to the central business district construction. He said the zoning ordinance calls for a brick exterior and there is a fire code designation.

Hyles suggested hadite brick would be more practical than sheetrock for the interior. He said painted hadite brick is permanent whereas sheet rock is not as durable. On the exterior, he said a metal building has a 20-year life span whereas a brick exterior can last a hundred years.

Hyles said he preferred to see an outside awning attached to the building rather than an awning supported by posts. He said he wants the sidewalks clear.

Diego Garcia asked whether they planned to build a two-story building.

Rosemond said a two-story building was a possibility but they have not reached a final decision.

Stiles said he would like to see a green building if possible financially.

Garcia asked what kind of construction cost the IEDC can afford to finance.

Stiles said they have not reached that point yet.

Board member Tom Little said the IEDC has paid off the fire truck and owes no money to anyone.

Elmerine Bell, board member, said they are also researching possible grants.

Stiles said a grant writer would be at the Feb. 28 meeting to discuss available grants.

A final piece of business included the local post office.

Stiles described the local post office as “very important to the city, school and community.” He explained that the federal government is considering shutting down 2,300 post offices across the United States.

He said the local post office does not lose money but it does not make money either.

The board authorized Voss to write a letter to U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchinson, U.S. Sen. John Cornyn and U.S. Rep. Joe Barton with copies going to the city council and Ellis County Commissioners Court urging them to ensure Italy does not lose its post office.