HURON – For a decade or more, replacing the city’s street shop has been high on the wish list.
Perhaps as much as a century old – originally built as an oil storage warehouse – the building has long outlived its time.
“It’s not only too small, it’s also dark and dingy and the lighting is not good,” said Mayor Paul Aylward. “It’s just not set up to be productive.”
City commissioners and department heads have been talking since 2007 about a project that would finally retire the street shop. When he took office four years ago, Aylward said it had been one of his priorities as a candidate and then as mayor.
He had been to the shop before when he was union representative for city workers.
“I didn’t realize how bad it was until I really got looking around,” he said.
But now, the city is poised to move forward with the construction of a new public works building, one that will put the street, traffic and water-sewer departments under one roof.
And the city won’t have to borrow a dime.
The estimated $5.5 million project will be financed with $1.283 million in second penny sales tax money that has accumulated in a special account since 2009, plus $1.5 million and $2.7 million in two reserve accounts.
“We can pay for it with our reserves and what we’ve set aside as restricted,” Finance Director Paullyn Carey said.
Eight years ago, the City Commission decided to begin setting money aside, knowing they had to do something about the city street shop. They were able to put money in the account each year with the exception of a few years ago when Splash Central was built.
“That’s the best thing, is having the money to pay for it,” Aylward said. “We’ve been doing that on purpose so if we had to borrow it wouldn’t be too much.”
The new building will be built at the northeast corner of Third Street and U Avenue in the West Industrial Park. It will sit on seven acres that the city owns.
Retained by the city as the construction manager for the project is Dick Freske of Huron.
He said the main building will be 58,000 square feet and a second structure for cold storage will be about 12,000 square feet. The area will be fenced, with two gates off U Avenue and the main entry gate off Third Street Southwest.
Its neighbors in the industrial park will be the new North Central Foam building to the north, the speculation building being finished off for a new Dakota Provisions facility to the northwest and Lankota to the north of that.
“It’s basically got three elements to it,” Freske said of the main building, which will measure 400-by-130 feet. “It’s got the office area that’s under the mezzanine and it’s got the shop and then the large garage for parking vehicles, with a wash bay in it.”
The mezzanine will be used for light storage of materials, such as the city’s Christmas decorations.
The separate, cold storage building will measure about 202-by-62 feet in size.
While 23 employees in the three departments of street, traffic and water and sewer will work out of the building, other departments will make use of it as well. The police, for example, will be able to wash their cars there, or thaw them in the frozen winter months.
Grant money secured by Greater Huron Development Corporation for road improvements in the industrial park will pay for paving an extension of Third Street Southwest that is now gravel and in poor, washboard condition.
Aylward said the current street shop property will be put on the market, but that the water-sewer buildings at 215 Market St. S.W. may still have a use by the city. No decision has been made.
Construction of the new public works building is expected to get under way by mid to late July, but the work won’t be completed until next year.
Commissioners will consider authorizing the bidding process at their June 5 meeting. Freske said the plan is to have the buildings enclosed by October or November so work can continue through the winter.
“The site work we’ll have to finish probably next summer because there’s an extensive amount of concrete out there,” he said. “There’s as much concrete outside as there is inside. It’s a significant concrete project from the standpoint of both the exterior and interior.”
Aylward said an open house is tentatively scheduled for Friday, June 2 so the public can tour the existing street shop to see firsthand the conditions the employees have been dealing with for years. More information will be announced as the plans for the event are finalized.
People are encouraged to come to the June 5 commission meeting if they have questions, he said.