City considers $9.5 million public works facility

By Amanda Crowe acrowe@civitasmedia.com

March 11, 2014

FAIRBORN — City council is currently considering a $9.5 million project to consolidate the public works divisions into one location as early as 2016.

Due to the age, physical condition and ongoing maintenance expenditures involved with the current Water and Sewer, Street, Equipment Maintenance, and Parks and Recreation Departments building, council approved a contract with Levin Porter Associates one year ago to complete a feasibility study for a consolidated facility.

The study included an extensive review of the four current facilities to determine where and how to relocate them into one location for efficiency of operations, facilities, equipment, manpower, utilities and shared services.

“All four locations are vastly undersized,” said Public Administrative Services Director Pete Bales. “Three of the four did not start out as public service locations, but have been modified or renovated over years. They were not built for the infrastructure we have today. If you look at what we have right now, where we operate, how we operate and what we have to deal with every day, it’s clearly evident this new facility is much-needed and will be more efficient.”

In December, council members toured the facilities to see firsthand the deteriorated buildings and poor working conditions. Many of the locations do not meet current electrical, building or accessibility codes. Working conditions in the vehicle maintenance garage do not always permit adequate space for large vehicles and equipment. Larger vehicles may have to be worked on outdoors due to inadequate bay sizes.

According to Bales, all of the buildings used for equipment storage have significant structural deficiencies and cannot contain all of the city’s vehicles and equipment, including some used for emergency response. Energy efficiency and security in most all of the equipment storage facilities are impacted by overhead doors that are deteriorated and non-functional resulting in them remaining open at all times.

There is little to no room for facility expansion to accommodate future growth for additional personnel, such as the Stormwater Utility currently being considered.

“In most of the facilities, current personnel are cramped with minimal workspace area and limited and/or awkward program storage capabilities,” said Bales.

Use of today’s technology is hampered by building materials that block signals, antiquated phone lines, line of sight issues with the city’s server, and difficulty running cables due to former outside walls having been turned into interior walls during expansions.

“Only one division has a security camera to protect the city’s substantial investment in equipment, vehicle, material and infrastructure,” Bales said.

It was determined that the site on Sandhill Road, adjacent to the existing Water Treatment Plant, would be the best location to house nearly 50 full-time public works employees, 20 seasonal employees and equipment for all four divisions. The new facility would consist of an Administration Office including employee facilities, fleet shop, fleet service vehicle parking, trade shops and conditioned storage, public and staff programming and event areas, and staff and visitor parking.

There would also be an Equipment Storage and Support Complex including a vehicle and equipment storage structure as well as a wash facility. An Open Storage Complex would consist of material storage bins, loading dock, outdoor support facilities, and limited surplus vehicle storage.

The total estimated cost of the project is $9,560,850, which includes the land acquisition, design, site preparation and construction.

“It sounds like a lot of money but it’s money well spent, and it’s long term money,” said Bales. “This facility will be serving customers for at least the next 40 to 50 years.”

The majority of the funding would come from the Equipment Maintenance Division at a cost of $2,753,323. Water and Sewer would pay $2,590,075, Street Division $2,538,197, Parks and Recreation $1,491,130 and Administration $188,125.

Levin Porter Associates drafted a final plan for the consolidated facility, which was presented to council Monday. With the input from the council, they will now prepare an executive summary and final version of the master plan to bring to council for a vote at a later date.

Pending council approval, the design phase of the project is expected to happen in 2015 with construction beginning in 2016.