January 23, 2019MEREDITH — The town is holding a series of public information sessions on the proposed $7.6 million Public Works Building, the last of which will take place on Jan. 29.
The first of two presentations took place on Wednesday at the Community Center. Town Manager Phil Warren presented a slideshow on the need for the new building and its proposed plans.
The main operations building on Jenness Hill Road is a steel framed structure constructed in 1965. Warren said the building has significant structural, space, energy, safety, environmental, and other issues and is way past its usable life.
The building itself is showing deterioration including cracks in the masonry walls due to ice dams, and deteriorated wall clapping that lets exhaust into work spaces. The mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems are past their lives. There is also improper ventilation that doesn't meet national standards.
Warren said the Public Works Department accounts for the town's most Workman's Compensation claims due to the inadequate facilities that often put staff members in dangerous situations.
Equipment is cluttered in small areas with few places to properly store equipment. There are also no separate male and female toilet facilities.
There is no proper storm water system, which could potentially impact nearby Hawkins Brook.
Warren said the building cannot be renovated due to many different reasons. There is no insulation on the roof because the building was designed so the heat would rise to the roof to melt snow and preserve the building's structural integrity. They would have to completely replace the mechanical and electrical systems.
A study process for a new building began in 2013 with the formation of a committee. After looking at several different plans, which also included looking at alternate sites, the committee and HKT Architects came up with a plan for a 12,800 square foot building.
The new building will be on one level with a mezzanine for mechanical and electrical controls and storage. There will be two drive through maintenance bays, a wash bay and storage as well as locker room, male and female toilets, and break room for staff. The proposed facility will have enough space to maintain town equipment, give staff room to work, and minimize the risk of injury. It will also allow for equipment to be better serviced, which Warren said means less downtime and lessens the need for replacement.
A new system for storm water drainage and wastewater management will be installed, which will reduce the impact on Hawkins Brook.
The new building would be significantly more energy efficient. Currently, the building costs around $30,000 a year in utilities, the new building would be closer to $16,000 a year.
The total estimated cost of the project is around $7.6 million.
"The need for this facility's been acknowledged for over a decade," Warren said.
He said with the stat of the building and rising construction costs, now is the best time to get this done.
Warren also noted that the town's debt service is low going into 2019.
Warren said with proper maintenance the new building is expected to last around 30 years.
"I felt we have pared this facility down so we can stomach the costs, but should it be out there to the people there's other needs that are going to have to be addressed in the future," said Public Works Director Mike Faller.
The old police station is still being used for the department's administrative office and sign shop. Faller said this building might need repairs in the future. Warren said a lot of these can be addressed through the operating budget in the future.
The next public information session will take place on Tuesday, Jan. 29 at 7 p.m. at the Meredith Community Center.