Proposed DPW building plan moves forward

  • The Montague Department of Public Works plows through snowfall on Avenue A in Turners Falls in February. Recorder file photo/Paul Franz

Recorder Staff
Published: 3/29/2018 11:39:45 PM

TURNERS FALLS — A new $11.1 million DPW facility in Montague has been approved at a special town meeting.

Town meeting members gave the required two-thirds vote in order to authorize the treasurer to borrow the money for the project. However, the proposal still must go before voters in May to clear its last hurdle. If it is approved in May, construction is expected to begin in summer 2019.

Special town meeting

The meeting, held at the Turners Falls High School auditorium, lasted over two hours and included an informational talk from a DPW Facility Committee member, statements from town government members and comments of both support and disapproval from town meeting members.

Some were appalled at the $11.1 million price and the tax hike it would require. Others admitted that it’s a steep price, but they voiced their understanding that a new facility is necessary for the DPW to function properly.

One town meeting member moved to vote to reduce the price to $5 million, but it was ultimately rejected by other town meeting members.

Current facility concerns

Concerns have surrounded the current facility at 500 Avenue A as it nears 60 years old. DPW workers say that not only is the building too small at 13,175 square feet, but it has “significant physical problems,” including structural issues, ventilation and various required repairs. The current building also does not comply with modern building codes.

“The current building is a risk to staff, equipment and operating certainty given the possibility for immediate shut down were it to be inspected by just about any authority,” said Jay DiPucchio, member of the Public Works Facility Planning Committee in a recent “My Turn” letter in the Greenfield Recorder.

A floor plan for the new facility on Montague’s website compares current conditions with proposed improvements, showing the Avenue A site with cramped storage, small shops and a tiny training room, and a muddy outdoor wash bay. In contrast, the proposed improvements show clean, spacious areas with an indoor wash bay.

The proposed facility

Two years of effort have gone into planning the new facility, including public meetings and information sessions. Preliminary designs for the new building have ranged from a 32,575 square-foot building to 21,119, then up to 27,974 square feet. The most recent proposal has landed at 25,500 square feet.

If officially approved at the town meeting in May, the estimated construction schedule for the new facility would be 14 months.

The breakdown of the $1,146,762 cost is as follows:

$7,770,424: Building construction and site development

$2,238,825: Soft costs, including fees, furnishing, communication systems

$1,137,512: Project contingency and adjustments.

If the town secures a 30-year bond to finance the project, it will cost the average Montague homeowner $150 a year for a house valued at $198,000 (the median house value in Montague) for a 30-year period.

Originally, the DPW eyed a town-owned parcel behind Judd Wire near the former “burn dump,” but the soil ended up not being conducive to building upon.

In late summer of last year, another town-owned site became available, this time between the Public Safety building and the cemetery.

The new facility will be designed for a lifespan of at least 50 years.

The fate of thecurrent building

Once the construction for the new facility is completed, the Avenue A location will be returned to the town’s control. It is expected to be sold as a commercial redevelopment site.

Additionally, the storage building and the DPW annex at Town Hall will also return to town control. The community will decide whether it wants to repurpose those areas for another municipal use or create a riverfront redevelopment site.

Plans for the proposed building can be viewed online:

Reach Christie Wisniewski at:

or 413-772-0261, ext. 280


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