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$10 million shortfall on Kaleideum project; money also needed for 2 other Forsyth projects

$10 million shortfall on Kaleideum project; money also needed for 2 other Forsyth projects

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Kaleideum logo (new)

Forsyth County is facing an estimated $10 million shortfall in funding for the construction of the Kaleideum children’s museum.

The county also needs money for parking facilities for the new courthouse and court administration building, as well as the replacement of a public safety radio system.

Kaleideum is a joint effort between the former Children’s Museum and SciWorks, which merged on July 1, 2016.

The county has already appropriated $17 million for a new building for Kaleideum. The additional unexpected costs would raise the total cost of the building to $27 million.

The county plans to demolish the former Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office at 120 W. Third St. and build the museum on the site or renovate the building for the project.

Forsyth County Manager Dudley Watts said Thursday that the shortfall is based on the design of the building, according to preliminary numbers.

“Construction price inflation seems to be driving some of it, and we are still working to try to understand other factors,” Watts said.

Other costs will be handled by Kaleideum. Museum officials hope to go public with a $10 million capital campaign late this year to raise money for exhibits and everything that will happen inside the building.

Elizabeth Dampier, executive director of Kaleideum, said Friday that Kaleideum is currently in the quiet phase of its campaign.

“We would hope to be at 85 to 90 percent of our goal by late 2018,” Dampier said.

She said that their goal is to move into the building in 2021, but she’s not sure when construction will start.

Until the building is completed, Kaleideum will continue to operate at its two locations. Currently, the former Children’s Museum in downtown Winston-Salem is called Kaleideum Downtown and the former SciWorks on Hanes Mill Road is called Kaleideum North.

Parking and radio system

Of the county’s $120 million budget for the new court facilities, just over $4 million has been set aside for parking.

County officials have previously said that a multi-story parking deck would be built on existing parking.

But the cost for a 324-space deck is actually about $5.8 million, said Kyle Wolf, the director of the Forsyth County Budget and Management Office.

“That’s why there’s a $1.7 million gap,” Wolf said.

In terms of the radio system, Wolf said that the current radio system is used by both the county and Winston-Salem, including the Winston-Salem police and fire departments, and some outside agencies.

It includes eight radio tower sites, 15 radio frequency channels and three emergency communication centers. It was purchased in 2002 and became operational in 2004.

“It’s not approaching the end of life, but there have been a lot of advances in technology, obviously, in the last 20 years,” Wolf said. “The radio technology is changing so that the radios that we currently have are not what is called P25 compliant. So, essentially, we have to replace the entire radio system.”

The estimated cost for the new radio system is about $18 million, which would be split between the county and city.

Winston-Salem is planning to get its $9 million from a proposed 2018 bond referendum.

Wolf said that the need to start on all three projects is approaching.

But he said that the new parking for the court facilities is the most immediate need because the county will be taking away parking while the court facilities are under construction.

Watts said that county staff is working on solutions so that all the projects can move forward.

fdaniel@wsjournal.com 336-727-7366 @fdanielWSJ

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