By Sue Ellen Woodcock
It was capital improvement night at the City Council on Monday night, when Mayor Brian Arrigo presented a report detailing a proposed capital improvement plan and a plan for the Department of Public Works facility.
All together, the proposed project plan calls for just over $29.5 million in funding for capital projects between FY2018-FY2022. This would not include a DPW facility.
The projects would be paid for out of the city’s general fund, including $10.9 million in debt-funded projects and $2.1 million in pay-as-you-go funds. Other sources will total $12.8 million including $4 million from Chapter 90 roadway funds, $1.62 million in potential reimbursement from the Massachusetts School Building Authority, $3.9 million in insurance monies from the tornado and $2.5 million from the school district.
The report on a proposed capital improvement plan was created by the Edward J. Collins, Jr. Center for public management.
A few highlights of needed capital improvements include the opening of the Point of Pines Fire Station, the replacement of two aging fire department ladder-trucks and two pumpers, there is also park and design construction, the Complete Streets initiative, urban trails and pedestrian and bicycle improvements. Also on the radar is tree planting and removal, roadway, sidewalk and stairway improvements. Roofing and flashing needs too be addressed at the Lincoln School. The Beachmont Schoovl is also in need of boilers, windows, walkways, lighting, etc.
As for the deplorable Department of Public Works building on Charger Street, it’s going to cost the city an estimated $22 million for a new facility.
“It’s a in dire need of some work, it’s in deplorable condition, and this is a project that’s been kicked down the road for a number of years,” Arrigo said. “I’m going to make sure the DPW staff has the facilities they need.”
In the meantime the city is looking into trailers at a cost of $75,000 to $100,000.
The DPW staff have been working with leaky roofs, mold, mildew and more. There is a hole in the roof of the garage, the salt shed is deteriorating, there are leaks in the office and computers are covered in plastic. Space for expensive equipment is also a concern. The department has the responsibility of the city’s infrastructure. including 83 miles of roadway, water and sewer, solid waste and more, including being on-call 24 hours a day.
“The current facility is undersized and possesses safety issues for the staff,” said Jeff Alberti of Weston and Sampson, who has built a 125 of these facilities around New England. “It also does not meet current building and plumbing codes.
He proposes a 47,500 square-foot metal, building at a cost of $22.5 million. He presented two additional options, one where part of the current building would be demolished and a part would be renovated for $21.1 million, and the third option is to build smaller buildings over a 10-year period to create one complex. In the mean time trailers would be utilized. This option would include a tension-membrane structure at a cost of $25.2 million.
“There are a lot of advantages and disadvantages,” Alberti said.
On first look, councillors appeared to lean toward option one.
“Approach number one gets this done quickly and effectively,” said Councilor George Rotundo. “The building is inhabitable with mold spores on the wall, standing water, oil and other products on the ground.”
The project would take about 24 months for design, bidding and construction. The construction phase would take 14-16 months, Alberti said.
“I like what I see. DPW workers not working in the best conditions,” said Ward 2 Councillor Ira Novoselsky. “We really do care about our DPW workers. They do their job to the utmost.”
“It’s completely deplorable and we’re going to have to deal with the neglect,” said Councillor Jessica Giannino. “City Hall is next. Things have not been taken care of for 30-40 years, and we are dealing with it now. We are under a consent decree because of neglect.”
“This will lift the moral of the city,” said Councillor Steve Morabito. “We have a lot of aging infrastructure we have to invest in, including the senior center and a new high school.”
Ward 5 Councillor John Powers added that the Alden Mills Fire Station, known as the Point of Pines Fire Station, is also in dire straights. The roof has recently been repaired but the water damage lingers behind. Arrigo said it would cost about $1 million to renovate.
“I’m unsure if we can even salvage it,” Arrigo said.
The Freeman Street station is also a challenged structure, and is over 100 years old.