The new animal shelter is under construction in the building and will serve Adams and Williamstown along with the city. It isbeing funded by a grant.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The City Council took the full tour on Tuesday of the new Department of Public Works facility that is nearing completion and is already being utilized by city workers.
Mayor Richard Alcombright told the councilors, councilors-elect and Mayor-elect Thomas Bernard during the walk-through of the overhauled former anodizing plant that the space has been "transformed"
"This is a remarkable transformation of this space," he said. "For those of you who have been in this building before you are going to see a remarkable transformation ... I think the majority of what we wanted to accomplish has been accomplished."
The city is spending nearly $500,000 to renovate the 85,000 square-foot building that will house several public works departments that are now operating out of deteriorating structures spread throughout the city.
Public Services Commissioner Timothy Lescarbeau said having all of the public services departments under one roof makes his job easier.
"In the past, all of my departments were spread out all over the city. … In the morning I would have to run all around. ... It has worked out well and now I don't have to chase people," he said. "I don't have to run to the City Yard and back and run back and forth. I have actually got more paperwork done in the last few weeks here than I have in the past year in a half."
The entrance to the new facility houses a reception area with offices. Moving into the actual facility, there is a renovated conference room that Lescarbeau said can be used for employee education and safety training.
Continuing down the hallway is a renovated employee break room that Lescarbeau said is a huge upgrade.
"The break room at the old yard was the break room, the restroom, locker room, and parts storage all in one room," he said. "It was also the washroom and it was nasty even when it was clean so now they have a new room."
Both the reception area, conference room and break room were fitted with a new paint job, floors, ceilings and efficient LED lights.
Alcombright said the city worked with National Grid to install efficient lighting throughout the facility. National Grid paid for a portion of the lighting and the city will be make up what was invested in 1.5 years just through the efficiency of the new lighting.
Alcombright said efficiency was a huge part of the project and pointed out as the group moved out into the actual garage that the entire area was insulated.
"You could hear a bicycle go by on Route 8 when you first came in here," he said. "Now this palace is so tight."
Along with this, Alcombright said the DPW was creative with heating and installed a waste oil furnace in the garage that can burn cooking oil and other oil waste that may accumulate.
"In the morning, we turn it on and pretty much takes the chill out of the whole building," Lescarbeau said. "To get rid of waste oil is expensive so we can burn it and save money."
Lescarbeau said the entire building is actually heated with two super-efficient boilers that are much smaller than what was there before.
"The old boilers would fill the room we are in and we ran them for two months when we first took ownership and it cost nearly $5000 a month," he said. "The new ones are two natural gas boilers and they are about the size of a file cabinet."
Lescarbeau said he wants to install a biomass boiler to burn brush received at the transfer station. Normally the city has to pay to remove this.
Alcombright pointed out the dispatch center that sits above the garage that he said will allow the DPW to answer calls on a full-time capacity instead of part time.
"The idea of bringing the office people done here is the dispatch will continue throughout the day now, so people can call DPW or public services and someone will answer," he said. "We will have more continuity in the service."
Alcombright brought the group toward the back of the garage, where the DPW has set up the mechanic area that he said is already a huge improvement.
"We had three trucks down at a time and we were able to fix them right here," he said. "Before there would be two in the building working on them and one outside in this weather underneath the truck. We don't have to do that anymore. These guys are in a dry safe space."
Lescarbeau walked the group through an area just off the back of the mechanic's space that will be used for cold storage. He said the building actually came with a few cranes that the DPW has repurposed to lift sanders.
"It's not outside anymore, and we aren't picking it up with a loader with guys hanging under it," he said.
He estimated that the cranes are valued at $500,000.
Lescarbeau brought the councilors through the new Parks and Recreation room and Water Department room that have offices and work areas. He said the departments had similar sized spaces before but they also had to park their vehicles in the same room.
He said public safety will also store equipment in the facility and the SWAT truck, command vehicle, bucket truck and generators will be kept warm.
"All of this stuff used to sit outside," he said. "Now it is warm. Before when it was below zero you had to fight this stuff to get it to turn on."
At the far end of the garage, Lescarbeau showed the councilors the incomplete animal shelter that will serve North Adams, Adams and Williamstown.
Administrative Officer Michael Canales said this portion of the building is being funded through a $200,000 grant the city received.
The area will be able to house 12 large dogs; however, these kennels can be subdivided. He added that there will be a cat area and an isolation room for sick animals.
The kennel will need a special HVAC system that will be covered in the grant funding and Lescarbeau said the walls will be thick enough, so the potentially barking dogs won't bother the city workers.
Lescarbeau said the entire project is on budget and the only thing the borrowed $500,000 won't pay for is the salt shed, which is slated to cost near $30,000.
The city needed to use the funds that would have paid for the salt shed for the design of an air handling system.
Alcombright added that the roof is in good shape and has over 20 years left in its lifespan. He said a third of the garage roof is older and will need to be replaced in the next five years, but the city is aware of it.
The mayor said the city will continue to put the finishing touches on the building through the winter and in the spring will focus on landscaping and making improvements to the outside of the building.
Most importantly, the new facility got the DPW's stamp of approval
"I can't tell you how happy we are, believe me," Lescarbeau said. "Right now, I wouldn't take anybody through the old facility without a hazmat suit on."
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