Archive for Wednesday, March 29, 2006

City may set up shop close to sewer plant

March 29, 2006

Plans for a new city shop near the sewage treatment plant took a step forward Monday.

The city council voted, 4-1, to continue working on conceptual designs for a new public works shop near the sewer plant, 1536 E. Fourth St.

BG Consultants, the city's engineering firm, provided the council with conceptual floor plans that included five vehicle maintenance bays and storage rooms, a training/break room and offices.

Council member Velda Roberts, the lone dissenting vote, said she would rather transform the current fire station, at 825 E. Fourth, into a city maintenance shop and build a new fire station.

Roberts voiced concerns about the proposed site near the wastewater plant. She said that site would be nearly a mile from Fourth and Main, which could be an issue when winter weather hits. She said the fire department would be more centrally located.

"I think it's kind of like building out in the country," Roberts said.

But her fellow council members didn't think that should be a concern.

"I think we're comparing apples and oranges," Ron Cranor said. "I don't know why it's such a big deal to move the fire department out of the fire department. True, in the future another fire department will have to be built."

Regarding the proposed site, City Administrator Mike Yanez said land acquisition would be moot because the city already owns the land near the sewer plant.

"We have not looked at the private sector," Yanez said. "Certainly we would save $200,000 to $300,000 in purchase of land."

Council member Jim Truesdell said he was on board because it was something the public works department also favored.

"It seems like they're happy with it," Truesdell said. "And there's no land acquisition. To me, it sounds like a positive situation."

The current maintenance shop also has garnered interest from a neighboring business. Council member Steve Gumm noted that Finney Robbins, owner of Midwest Carpet Center, has expressed interest in purchasing the maintenance building. Midwest Carpet Center is southwest of the existing maintenance shop. Robbins also owns the building just south of the shop, which is occupied by Wirenuts, a security company.

Discussion about selling the maintenance building, however, signaled a red flag for Roberts. With the city also looking to build a new community building that could house city hall, council chambers and a police station, she said selling that land could be a disadvantage. With a vacant lot to the west in the same block, at Third and Delaware, Roberts said the city should keep the maintenance shop if that land would be needed in plans.

Again, that wasn't an issue with other members.

As for the new site, council member Jason Ward said avoiding land acquisition was key. And, he favored a larger building that would keep all public works personnel together.

"It also brings a lot of our folks together," Ward said. "When you do that, it's going to help with efficiency."

BG Consultants will move forward with conceptual designs. Yanez said the next step would be estimating costs for the proposed building.

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