DPW Site Discussed

By: Benjamin J. Gohs, Associate Editor
bgohs@boynegazette.com
(231) 222-2119

The Boyne City Commission revisited the proposed Department of Public Works facility project during their regular meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 25.  [private]No decisions were made during this informational meeting, but commissioners were given the pros and cons to two potential construction sites.  ““When it last came before the city commission there were two lead candidates at that time,” said Boyne City Manager Michael Cain. “One was North Boyne and the other was the waste-water treatment site. We got proposals from C2AE and it was my recommendation that we hire them to (provide) analysis that would compare the cost and some of the issues with siting at one facility or the other.”

Early total cost estimates show construction at the city’s property near the corner of Robinson, referred to as the “North Boyne” area, and Court streets would be nearly $2.6 million. Estimated costs – and a C2AE representative cautioned that these numbers are preliminary and could differ – to build at the city’s waste-water treatment plant near the airport could be over $3.8 million.

 C2AE’s findings detail detrimental impacts of using each site.  Those for North Boyne include:

Utilizing this site for a DPW/Maintenance facility restricts the use of this site for other purposes including recreation and development.  The potential benefits of combined facilities (DPW being located at the waste-water treatment facility) and operations would not be realized if the two facilities are at separate locations.

Plans to use the waste-water treatment facility apparently carry more detrimental impacts:

The useable site area is very constricted and leaves very little room for potential additions.  Construct-ability at this site is an issue: constructing the new facility at the edge of the steep embankment would likely necessitate the construction of a large retaining wall.  Also, soils investigation would need to be performed to assure the stability of the bank.  The site requires a large amount of imported fill material and would also require significant removal and replacement of unsuitable soils.  Impacts to existing utilities/infrastructure at this site are much greater than at the North Boyne site.

C2AE’s recommendation is that, due to both lower construction costs and fewer site issues, the city resources would be best used for constructing a new DPW facility at the North Boyne Site.  However, Cain said he prefers using the waste-water treatment site if at all possible.  “There are some challenges and it’s a tighter site at the wast-water treatment facility. There are some staffing issues that might make it worth looking at and there might be some efficiencies to be gained there but there are some tradeoffs on both of them,” he said. “It looks like given enough money and enough time you could make either site work.”

Commissioner Dan Adkison asked if the city would save the difference in construction costs by going with the higher priced construction since there may be the potential to eliminate some costs by sharing facility space.  Cain said there is potential but no guaranteed savings if the DPW and waste-water treatment facilities were to be combined.  “It seems as though no matter where we put it in the waste-water treatment facility there’s going to be an increase in cost,” said Boyne City Mayor Chuck Vondra. “I’m curious about the specs and I’m curious about who decided where what was going.”  He added, “This is the Cadillac version. I’m looking for a building to save money short-term. Maybe we can expand in the long-term. It looks like we’re trying to drive an Escalade as opposed to a pickup.”  Cain responded that that was not the case.

Vondra interjected, “It looks like it. I can get you a price for a 16,000-foot facility and it won’t be three-and-a-half million.”  Cain said the purposes of this study was to determine the site differences only.  “And whatever site you pick makes a difference,” Vondra said. “This is the Cadillac version, not the pickup truck version.”  Vondra asked how much space is either not currently utilized at all or underutilized at the waste-water treatment facility.  Cain said the end of the building with the conference room and file storage area were underutilized.  “If we’re bringing two departments in there, that space is going to get used up and we’re going to need additional space,” Cain said. “If there are some other scenarios you’d like us to take a look at we’re more than willing to take a look at that.”

The board directed Cain to continue investigating the matter and report back at an unspecified time.  “We’ve got to look at … the long-term implications of the costs, how we’re using the sites, impact on the neighborhoods, things of that nature,” Cain said. “I don’t want to be penny-wise and pound foolish and do something now that’s going to cost more later on.”  He added, “I think the commission knows my initial preference is to make the water-treatment facility site work. There’s a lot of challenges.”[/private]

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