RADSS May Stay Downtown

The Rockbridge Area Department of Social Services is eyeing the opportunity to extend its lease on Preston Street at an increased rent of $10,000 a month.

Social Services Director Social Services Director Dinah Clarke announced at the regular board meeting last Wednesday that T.G. Woody, executor of the Woody building where the agency is currently housed on 20 E. Preston St. in Lexington, recently offered the department lease extension options through a verbal agreement.

The current lease for the agency expires on the last day of March. Woody proposed the current rent be increased from $4,500 to $10,000 per month with two different lease options. The department can enter a twoyear lease in the current upstairs office location or enter a five-year lease for the same rate with the inclusion of renovated downstairs office space for agency use.

Social Services has halted its ongoing negotiations with Dr. Robert Hull for use of his office space in Magnolia Square on the east side of U.S. 11, north of Lexington. The department entered the search for a new location in 2018, with improved security, accessibility and space to accommodate growth in the agency being driving factors in initiating a move.

The department extended its occupancy of the Woody building with a two-year lease at the beginning of 2018, in which the rent was increased from $4,200 to $4,500. At the time, the lease seemed to serve the agency during its transition to Magnolia Square.

In October, Hull expressed his frustration in the ongoing negotiations with the agency to the county Board of Supervisors during public comment. Agreements between the two parties stalled when the Department of Social Services moved to have another request for proposals developed to further outline the needs of the growing agency.

Clarke explained to the board last Wednesday the most recent proposal from Woody includes renovations and improvements to existing building features, like heavier, more secure doors and windows.

“Are [they] where we would like them to be? No,” Clarke said of added security updates to the Preston Street location. “It’s still the same building. But they are an improvement on what we have.”

She added department administration is exploring the implementation of a security system should they extend the lease on Preston Street.

Clarke said Social Services is waiting on Woody’s attorney, David Natkin, to write up a written lease agreement for the agency’s attorney and the board’s consideration.

The News-Gazette

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