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Public meetings scheduled to discuss proposed $11.5 million Montague DPW building

  • The Montague Public Works building on Avenue A Extension in Turners Falls. Recorder Staff/Matt Burkhartt



Recorder Staff
Sunday, January 14, 2018

TURNERS FALLS — A proposal for a $11.5 million Montague Department of Public Works building is on the table again after being put on hold last March.

The proposal lost traction last year after the town had to spend $2.4 million to cap the old burn dump, but the Department of Public Works is ready to move forward again and will hold three public meetings to inform residents and answer questions.

The proposed building would sit on 22 acres on Turners Falls Road, south of the Public Safety Complex. While the DPW would use 5 acres of the lot, the rest would be available for future town use.

The DPW Facility Planning Committee has been working together for two years to determine an appropriate site. The proposal introduced last February was also for $11.5 million.

For the past few years, concerns have arisen over the safety of the current DPW building at 500 Avenue A. The building is almost 70 years old.

“The building is inefficient, too small, and is not up to modern building codes in a number of critical areas,” Mark Williams, member of the DPW Facility Planning Committee, said in a statement. “The present facility creates a high safety risk to the employees who work there...”

The proposed building would be 25,000 square feet, which would allow for “more interior storage of ... DPW vehicles and equipment, while also creating additional covered parking for vehicles that can be stored outside,” Williams said.

In addition to vehicle storage, the proposed space would have room for a salt shed, fuel depot and other equipment storage. Currently, equipment is stored at several other locations in town.

According to Williams, the new building will cost less to heat and will be more energy efficient. There will also be room for roof-mounted solar panels, but it is unclear whether the panels are included in the $11.5 million.

If the plan is approved, the old DPW building will be sold for private redevelopment, according to Williams.

While Williams and the committee said the proposal will cost more than they hoped, they note that construction costs are rising each year, so delaying the project would ultimately cost more later on.

“If we continue to delay this project, we will get less of a building for more money,” said Williams.

Williams claims that the cost of the new building is in the normal range compared to other towns and facilities of a similar size.

“We believe this site has a minimal impact on the residences nearby,” said Williams.

The three informational sessions will allow the committee to further explain the proposal as well as allow the public to raise questions and concerns. The sessions are as follows:

Jan. 17, 7 to 8:30 p.m. at the Highland Apartments Meeting Room.

Jan. 29, 7 to 8:30 p.m. at the Montague Center Fire Department.

Feb. 13, 6 to 7:30 p.m. at the Public Safety Complex

Reach Christie Wisniewski at:

cwisniewski@recorder.com

or 413-772-0261, ext. 280