Residents meet to address concerns, questions about DPW facility

Recorder Staff
Monday, January 29, 2018

TURNERS FALLS — About two dozen residents gathered at the Montague Center Fire Station to voice comments and concerns about the proposed $11.2 million DPW facility.

Ken Morin, member of the DPW Building Committee, opened the joint Selectboard and public information session by reiterating reasons why the town would benefit from a new DPW facility. The existing building was built almost 60 years ago and has “significant physical problems, including structural issues, ventilation, and a long list of required repairs,” according to a FAQ sheet handed out at the meeting.

The committee is developing preliminary plans for a DPW facility on a 22-acre parcel off Turners Falls Road. The new facility would take up five acres and house everything under one roof. According to Morin, the building would have storage, a mezzanine, offices, space for an on-site salt shed, solar power, and possibly a fueling station.

Morin also cited the ever-rising cost of construction, saying that the town should act soon in getting the new facility because it is “long overdue.”

He also explained that the current facility doesn’t have ample space for offices and equipment, but the new facility would store almost two dozen vehicles.

“Right now, there’s about 15 vehicles in a maze down there,” Morin said, referencing the current DPW building.

According to Morin, a Montague resident who owns a home worth $150,000 would pay approximately $9.47 a month in taxes for the new building.

Public comments ranged from concerns about what to do with the existing DPW building, traffic concerns and voting on the matter.

Morin assured residents that the old DPW building is “highly marketable” — it just needs to be updated.

One resident mentioned that the proposed new facility would be close to a dangerous intersection, and adding DPW trucks to the mix may cause more accidents.

DPW committee members briefly discussed implementing “truck entering” warning signs near the intersection.

Another resident was concerned about the costs of the new facility, especially since there has also been interest in building a new senior center and improving the library in town.

Walter Ramsey, town planner, said that the town did a feasibility study and it was decided that the town should “pick one (option) and move forward.” According to Ramsey, the new facility came as a top priority.

For now, other town projects may have to be put on hold until the DPW project is completed.

One resident voiced his support for a new building, but was worried about the size and cost of the building. He reminded the committee that Montague is in the bottom 10 in the state for median household income, and said he felt that some costs could be cut to alleviate financial strain on residents.

Morin assured attendees of the session, “we’re trying to be realistic about what this town can afford.”

One resident was concerned that homeowners wouldn’t have a way to vote on the matter, but Kuklewicz assured them that homeowners will be able to vote by ballot when the time comes. Before the vote, there will be more public meetings.

Reach Christie Wisniewski at: 413-772-0261, ext. 280 or