New public works building stirs concerns

Ocean View citizens are raising concerns about a proposed new public works building in the town, with some speaking in opposition to the plan at a town council meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 14.

The proposed public works building would be located at 20 West Avenue, on the site of the former Lampe residence – a property the town purchased in the last year with no specific stated use in mind.

Citizens’ concerns ranged from possible resulting depreciation in nearby property values to public safety issues and a particularly sensitive subject for the town: cost.

A representative from Kercher Engineering Inc. presented the preliminary site plan for the project on Tuesday night. A copy of that plan is now available at town hall for interested persons to view from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.

The engineer’s presentation Tuesday concentrated on the shortfalls of the two present-day public works buildings, located on Oakwood Street, which are both more than 30 years old and don’t meet International Building Code requirements updated in 2006.

The buildings’ limitations, according to KEI, include that storage is in a non-protected outside area; chemicals and flammables are used by employees but no glasses or shower areas are available; and the existing quarter-acre lot is not conducive for trucks and heavy equipment to move around easily. Also, gravel, mulch, sand and salt containers are open to potential theft and vandalism and in are close proximity to the children’s play area of the park.

The cost to renovate the existing facility to current needs and code was estimated at $153,000, but that would only give the buildings an estimated 20-year life expectancy.

The proposed new 4,323-square-foot public works building is to be built on almost an acre of town property on West Avenue. Engineers said the existing residence is not suitable for a public works building, so a new structure would need to be built.

According to the preliminary site plan for that building, it would have give public works a net total increase of 2,019 square feet of space. It would have load-bearing, reinforced concrete walls that could withstand 120 mph winds, pre-cast walls and pre-fabricated roof trusses; would use green technologies, such as the concrete construction and rain barrels for stormwater runoff; and would have five heated bays for heavy equipment and about 1,056 square feet of storage on a second floor.

The elevation drawings of the proposed structure have a Cape Cod-style residential look, with dormers, so as to blend in with neighboring residential properties. The estimated cost for the new building is about $80 per square foot, or $327,000, which includes design, building and maintenance over 20 years, but not utilities.

“Heated bays?’ asked one resident with some skepticism. “I am assuming heat is not included in the $327,000 over 20 years, right? My garage isn’t even heated,” she said.

Mayor Gordon Wood confirmed that utilities – including the cost to heat the equipment bays – would be a separate expense. He also explained that the process for approval of the project is continuing and that staged construction could be a possibility.

A public hearing on the preliminary site plan for the proposed project – as requested by Town Manager Conway Gregory – was set prior to the Oct. 14 council meeting, before the town’s Planning & Zoning Commission. That public hearing was to be held at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 16, at town hall, where interested parties were urged to attend and present their views on the project.

Despite financial concerns that were discussed at length during Tuesday’s council meeting and cuts to a number of town programs related to its police department, the town is currently looking at or has approved two major capital projects: the public works building on the Lampe property and the move of town hall functions and staff to the second floor of the existing public safety building.

The two projects together are now estimated to cost the town about $600,000.

The town is now advertising for bids on the renovations needed at the public safety building in order for town administrative functions to move there. A report from the Public Works Building Committee regarding cost analysis and specifications for the proposed building was presented to the council on Tuesday.