Leland Gray of LPDJ Architects of Bountiful, Utah, explains his concrete thin shell proposal to the Curry County Commission on Tuesday during a meeting for a proposed special events center.
By Jack King
After years of controversy and discussion, Curry County commissioners Tuesday approved a design for a Curry County special events center.
They tabled discussion on awarding a building contract for the center, saying they needed County Attorney Steven Doerr to approve contract details.
The commission chose a “concrete thin shell” dome design on a 4-1 vote.
Commissioner Albin Smith, one of the four commissioners who approved the design, said he was most concerned with maintenance and utility costs of a building. In that respect, the concrete building seemed to have an edge over conventional construction, he said.
Commissioner Kathrynn Tate was the lone dissenter.
“I’m not fully convinced the dome will work, and I’m convinced a conventional building will work, because there’s a guy here who’s built them all over the country. For these reasons, I support a conventional building,” she said.
Curry County voters approved a $3 million property tax extension over 14 years to fund an arena in 2001. The county has also received more than $1 million in federal and city funding for the project.
Architect Leland Gray of LPDJ architects told the commission that his firm could design a concrete building that costs $3.6 million and would provide a 160-by-320 square foot arena — leaving enough room for animal pens on the floor — and 4,000 seats. The seats would be 22-inch-wide plastic “theater-type” with backs, he said.
Gray added a concrete building is fire proof and wind proof. Experience with other buildings shows that a concrete structure is 18 percent more efficient to heat and cool, he said.
Charley Smith of Bullock Smith and Partners told the commission his firm could design a conventional steel frame building for $3.4 million. But Smith said the building’s arena floor would be smaller than the LPDJ design, with a 146-by-290 square feet arena floor and only 3,000 seats, divided between 18-inch plastic seats and bleachers.
Many of the approximately three dozen citizens who attended the meeting were anxious for the commission to move ahead with the project and emphasized that the center should be practical for agricultural events.
“Foldable chairs in an auditorium with 22-inch seats won’t make you money, but 600 box stalls (where potential competitors could put horses) will buy a lot of asphalt,” said Steve Friskup of Clovis Livestock Auction.
Clovis City Commissioner Gloria Wicker said Curry County is missing chances to host events because it lacks facilities.
“Farmington just closed a contract with the National High School rodeo that made them $13 million a year. The maintenance of this building will be paid for by stalls,” she said.
Opinions were divided about the two designs.