McComb officials hired an architect to develop a new floor plan for the Alpha Center in Baertown and hired the firm on a contractual basis for other projects.

The city board had originally agreed to do the work in phases, but Recreation Director Joyce Smith said she spoke with the State Auditor’s Office, which advised her that the entire project would need to go through the bid process. Selectmen then hired Cox Architecure to design a floor plan for the building and make a list of needed repairs.

Selectman Devante Johnson asked architect Steve Cox how much the job would cost, noting that the money for the project was quickly dwindling.

“I have no idea,” Cox said. “I don’t even know the scope of the work is fully at this point. My job is going to be to develop the scope of work. ... I looked at it some time back a year ago, and nothing was done. I know some work has been done on it but I really don’t know. I couldn’t even begin to guess what the cost it would be.”

The board previously approved the use of a $100,000 state bond for the repairs to the center, and the recent repair to the bathrooms came out of the bond money.

Johnson asked Smith how much money was left, but Smith declined to answer out loud, noting that having contractors know how much money the city had for the project could be detrimental to the bid process.

“I am just trying to make sure that when all of this is done and we send it out to bid, we are not going to get something we can’t afford to complete,” Johnson said. “I don’t want us to get in a situation like we came out of with the MLK center just a few moments ago.”

Johnson was referring to the proposed Martin Luther King Center gym, which is $400,000 over its $1.3 million budget. On the same night the city met with Cox, officials held a video conference with another architect overseeing that project, who urged city leaders to scale back a grandiose wish list for the gym project, but the board took no action.

Selectmen also approved a $3,500 payment to GP Engineering & Surveying for field surveying, civil site design and office, drafting and research for the MLK gym.

The vote was 4-1 with selectmen Shawn Williams, Donovan Hill, Ronnie Brock and Johnson approving the payment and Selectman Ted Tullos opposing. Cameron was absent for the vote after being asked to leave the board room for not wearing a mask.

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