County museum in need of repairs

By Jason Evans
Staff Reporter

PICKENS — The Pickens County Museum of Art and History is in need of some costly repairs.

Interim county administrator Tom Hendricks briefed council about the situation during Monday’s Pickens County Council meeting.

The problem was uncovered when shelving at the museum was moved several weeks ago, he said.

“We found that the interior wall had buckled six inches,” Hendricks said.

The building’s “elevator pit” is causing water to enter the building’s facade, Hendricks said.

“That entire foundation is eroding way,” he said. “The entire front along that building is seeping water.”

The “big-ticket item” would be digging the whole front of the museum up and installing a French drain “to try and carry that water around the building,” Hendricks said.

The problems include missing mortar, loose bricks and water entering the foundation.

“That brick is collapsing,” Hendricks said as he walked council through a slideshow concerning the issue.

The total work is estimated to cost around $120,000

“This is a preliminary number, that $120,000,” Hendricks said.

He requested $130,000 in one-time funding be provided from the county’s accommodations tax fund to fund the repairs at the museum. He urged council to move quickly, before the problem grew much worse.

“That decision needs to happen within the next month,” Hendricks said.

Council unanimously approved the administrator’s request for funding the repairs but encouraged staff to seek other options.

“I don’t think a French drain is the right answer for this from a standpoint of cost-effectiveness and actually doing what you want to do,” councilman Trey Whitehurst said. “I think there may be better, easier ways that may be more cost-effective. I understand we’ve got a situation. Before we jump in spending 120 grand, maybe we can actually fix it for less.”

Councilwoman Jennifer Willis agreed.

“I think we have a very serious situation, and we appreciate you bringing it to us, and it needs to be treated urgently,” she said. “A French drain is usually not your best choice or even your third-best choice. The best choice is to move the water around, divert it in other ways, from the street level, from everything else. We’ve still got to get the water out of there, we’ve got to waterproof the front of that building and we’ve got to restore that foundation. All of those things are going to be expensive.

Councilman Neil Smith said he believed the project’s larger costs would come from repairing the brickwork and fixing the sidewalks.

“We will look at everything,” Hendricks said.