Yarmouth reduces plan for public works depot

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YARMOUTH — A construction bond for a new Public Works depot will not be on the June ballot after the Town Council decided not to proceed with a broad expansion plan.

Instead, councilors will vote April 19 on measures to begin a phased-in project to expand the North Street facility, but without a definitive timetable for a bond question.

“No decision was made on whether we have a vote in November or some other date,” Town Manager Nat Tupper said.

Councilors decided against moving forward with a plan to rebuild the facility that houses Public Works operations and School Department transportation services, despite recognizing a need for more space for maintenance, storage and offices

“We desperately need a new facility, but the expense of doing it is too great in the current economy,” Council Chairman Steve Woods said.

Created by Sebago Technics and TFH Architects, the plan also called for reconfiguring adjacent athletic fields. Tupper said recent estimates for the plan amounted to $5.4 million, without the field work.

Plans for a new building of around 18,000 square feet were first presented in a February council workshop, culminating three years of discussions and planning by Public Works Director Erik Street, councilors and a task force.

Instead of a vote next week on forwarding a construction bond to voters, councilors will be asked to consider allocating $30,000 in surplus funds for planning on a smaller scope, with a some key improvements given high priority.

“We will focus on just a few improvements, including a wash bay, and planning for future improvements that will eventually have to be made,” Tupper said.

A second agenda item seeks to allocate $12,000 of surplus funds to purchase an option to buy land adjacent to the Public Works depot.

Both agenda items are preliminary and could be changed before the meeting, Tupper said.

A goal is to create a plan costing about $1.3 million, which is not a magic number, but something to drive the priority setting and scale,” he said.

Street said his department maintains all town vehicles, including school buses, and has outgrown its space.

A wash bay is a critical need to reduce repairs on town vehicles caused by accumulations of corrosive materials, he said during the February workshop.

Because the town is governed by state environmental shoreline regulations, Street said his crews cannot use anything stronger than water when washing vehicles outdoors.

The Public Works facility is comprised of two adjoining buildings connected when the town took over school bus maintenance. The public works section is about 50 years old, the former school bus depot is about 10 years newer, Street said.

Tupper said the town has spent about $100,000 for work on the plan presented in February.

David Harry can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 110 or dharry@theforecaster.net. Follow David on Twitter: @DavidHarry8.

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Portland City Hall reporter for The Forecaster. Baltimore native, lived in Maine since 1989. A journalist since 2005, covering much of Cumberland and York counties. I joined The Forecaster in 2012.