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Public Works facility complete

ABOVE: The city of Fairmont’s new Public Works facility is nearly complete. An open house will take place on Thursday from 4 to 6 p.m. At that time the public can tour the new space.

FAIRMONT– Just a year after groundbreaking, Fairmont’s new Public Works facility, located at 801 E. Margaret St. is nearly complete. An open house of the facility will take place beginning at 4 p.m. on May 19.

The new facility, designed by ISG Architects and constructed by Kraus-Anderson, along with about 25 sub-contractors, covers 58,360 sq. ft. and carries a $7.5 million dollar price tag.

City Engineer Troy Nemmers explained that the original facility was constructed in the 50s and 60s and that it consists of two different buildings, with one built between them to connect it.

“The flow between them was not good. All of the heating and electrical equipment was beyond its useful life. The space itself wasn’t efficient,” Nemmers said.

In 2015 the facility was assessed to help determine whether it would be cost-effective to look at rehabbing the existing facility or building new.

“Through that process we determined building a new facility would be more efficient for operations long term,” Nemmers said.

However, it was’t an immediate decision as it took six years to break ground on the new facility.

The new 58,360 sq. ft. facility is more than double the size of the original facility. Nemmers said they’ll maintain the original facility and will use it for storage. While the new facility has a large garage, it still won’t support all of the equipment that the city utilizes.

Parks and StreetDepartment Supervisor, Nick Lardy, explained that the Public Works facility includes both the street department and park departments, the city forester, building maintenance and the mechanic shop.

“The mechanics pretty much take care of all city-owned vehicles and equipment,” Lardy said.

There are around 100 city-owned vehicles and trailers, which includes fire department vehicles and some of the police vehicles.

“We couldn’t even fit the fire truck in the old building. There were three or four that didn’t fit in the old facility,” Nemmers said.

Now, the new garage has doors that are tall enough to fit the various vehicles and pieces of equipment. There is also a new overhead crane that can be used.

“We had an old in-floor hoist in the old shop that was red-tagged because it didn’t pass inspections,” Lardy said.

Nemmers shared that they’re not adding a lot of services with the new facility, but they’re making operations more efficient and safer. The new facility is also meeting all of the codes out there, whereas the former facility wasn’t.

“It’s a lot about efficiency and safety in the new building. We can consolidate our services,” Nemmers said.

The new facility also boasts a new meeting room, which was lacking in the former facility. Lardy said there was a lot of going back and forth with how the setup was in the former facility. The facility will be home to about 21 staff members with 3 seasonal workers in the summer months.

It’s also important to note that while it’s a new facility, it’s not full of all new equipment. Lardy said they tried to re-use as much as they could. A lot of the benches and tables are from the old facility and the shelving is a mix of old and new.

Nemmers said they’ve remained on track with time and budget.

“We were really fortunate to get the project construction started when we did, ahead of the supply chain issues and rising material costs. The building would cost dramatically more if we started to build it right now,” Nemmers said.

Staff started to move everything over in late April.

“It’s a busy time for getting things ready. Memorial Day is coming up. We can’t quit doing our services and move so we’re doing it as time allows,” said Lardy.

The open house runs from 4 to 6 p.m. and will include a ribbon cutting at 4:30. Nemmers said all of the equipment will be parked out front and the public is welcome to come tour the facility and learn about operations.

“We intentionally put the open house during National Public Works Week. It gives us a chance to acknowledge all of the Public Works staff that keeps the city running and keeps the parks looking nice. It’s a thank-you to Public Works employees as well,”said Nemmers.

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