May 23 2018

$16.5 Million Approved for Phase 1 of New DPW/Rec Maintenance Facilities

By: Rich Hosford

Burlington Parks & Recreation Maintenance and divisions within the Department of Public Works will soon have a new home.


Last Wednesday night Town Meeting voted to approve the use of $16.5 million for the design of new facilities and the construction of a new building. This fund appropriation is the first of a two-part project to completely overhaul the facilities used by Recreation Maintenance and the Highway and Water/Sewer divisions of the DPW.


In short, the first phase will use the $16.5 million to:


- Fund the design of a DPW facility, including space for Recreational Maintenance facilities, on the current site of the Highway facility and the site known as the Clark & Reid site.


- Fund the construction of a 30,000 square foot facility on the Clark & Reid site for a DPW facility for Recreation Maintenance and Central Maintenance divisions, and site construction for DPW ancillary services.  


- Fund the design and rehabilitation of the fuel pumping facility at the Town Hall Annex.


The second phase, which will be presented to Town Meeting in an upcoming year, is estimated to cost $15.5 million and will:


- Demolish the current Highway facility on Meadow Road


-  Fund the construction of a 36,000 square foot facility on the current site of the Highway facility on Meadow Road of a DPW facility for Highway and Water/Sewer divisions.


“The two sites will provide a total of 6.9 acres of land and 66,000 square feet of building space,” the Town Meeting warrant backup information states. “We will maintain the fuel facility at the Town Hall Annex and the salt shed on Grant Avenue. We will continue to provide for some storage at Overlook Park as well as the land on Adams Street.”


The reason for the new construction is that the current facilities are old, falling apart and don’t meet the current needs of the town, town leaders including Town Administrator John Petrin, DPW Director John Sanchez and Parks & Recreation Director Brendan Egan argued in the lead-up to the Town Meeting vote. The current facilities were constructed in the 1960s and, they said, have not kept up with the growing needs of the town.  


“During those fifty-plus years, our commercial district has developed as well as the services we facilitate through DPW and Recreation,” the argument for the project in the backup material reads. “We need to provide facilities that will address today’s needs as well as grow in the future.”


You can see a BCAT show done with Petrin that features a tour of the facilities here.


During the meeting Petrin reiterated the arguments about the buildings, pointing to cramped work spaces, a lack of proper facilities for employees, structural issues with the facilities and the fact that due to space limitations expensive equipment is often stored outside in the elements.


“I think most people agree our current facilities are inadequate,” he said.


There were some questions and concerns raised by Town Meeting members about the project.  


“I think the state of employees is deplorable and we need to fix it but I think it needs to be done more incrementally,” member Adam Senesi said. “We are just giving a construction company a blank check. I think we need to have an architectural plan.”


Petrin said the project will have a full design committee, much like the Fire Station 2 project currently underway, and that this process is standard for the town.


“It will be designed and come out with public review,” he said. “This is the way we’ve always operated.”


There were also questions about whether the construction would be approved by the Department of Environmental Protection due to its proximity to the town’s water supply.


“That is the intent,” Petrin said. “We will actually be making the sites more environmentally safe.”


In the end the first phase of the project was approved with a 63-19 vote, which was sufficient to pass the 2/3 majority needed for it to pass.


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