The city is moving ahead with plans to build a new public works facility next year.
Last week, the Common Council voted 10-2 to authorize Public Works director Brett Hebert to continue working with Angus-Young Associates to design, engineer, gather bids and oversee construction of the facility. It would be built on roughly 13 acres the city owns southeast of the intersection of Race Track Road and County Hwy. A on the city’s east side.
Preliminary plans for the facility include three separate buildings anchored by a 58,000-square-foot fleet garage. The project could also include a 20,000-square-foot cold storage building for vehicles, a 4,800-square-foot salt storage shed and possibly a fueling station for all city fleet vehicles. A preliminary cost estimate in 2013 to build a new facility came in at $8.3 million, which includes Angus-Young’s bid of $359,600 to prepare documents, get state building permits and oversee construction.
That price tag was the reason two alders – Sid Boersma (D-1) and Kathleen Tass Johnson (D-2) – voted against a resolution authorizing the city to continue working with Angus-Young.
Other alders agreed the city needs to invest in a new facility to help the public works department operate more efficiently and to clear the way for a planned redevelopment area on the Yahara River.
Hebert told the council the new facility should have a lifespan of 70 to 80 years and that it’s needed because his department has outgrown the existing facility on Fourth Street, part of which was built around 1930 and before.
The city began working with Angus-Young Associates in 2013. Hebert told the council that to start over with a different company would cost about $26,000.
“There’s no reason to move away from Angus-Young,” he added.
While most of the council agreed, Boersma and Johnson each said they didn’t think the city could afford such an expensive facility.
“I think the project is too expensive and there are ways to reduce the cost,” Boersma said during council discussion of the resolution last week. For example, he didn’t think it needed a refueling station or salt storage building on site.
Hebert countered that the city doesn’t have another place to store its road salt, which has to be done correctly to protect the environment, as well as the city’s investment. And more importantly, he said, the city needs to start work with a planning firm in order “to determine the actual cost and to see what we can cut cost-wise.”
Ald. Regina Hirsch (D-3) said she supports having a fueling station and salt shed at the site of the new facility because it would be more efficient and save the city money in the long run.
Council president Tim Swadley agreed with Hebert and said when he was on the city’s Public Works committee, members didn’t want to spend money to maintain the existing facility because they expected to replace it in the near future.
Ald. Mike Engelberger (D-2) said he supports building the new facility because “in 13 years, the existing facility will be 100 years old.”
“The trend is not to have these facilities downtown,” he said, “and we need to clear that redevelopment site.”