NASHUA — A proposed $10 million public works facility has overcome its first hurdle and is one step closer to becoming a reality.
On Thursday, the Board of Public Works approved the construction of a new public works building on property next to the city landfill. The project must still receive approval from the Board of Aldermen in order to move forward.
Rob Prunier of Harvey Construction presented the board with various options, including a new, 25,000-square-foot public works building, or the renovation and expansion of four existing buildings — the public works administration building, streets department office, parks and recreation office and solid waste department.
“The numbers may be staggering,” acknowledged Prunier, who said a new, two-story building would cost nearly $10 million. On the other hand, the renovation and expansion of the four existing buildings would cost about $16 million or more, according to Prunier.
All four of the existing buildings need to be brought up to code with new mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems, he said, adding they also need to be expanded for additional offices, bathrooms, meeting space, locker rooms, storage areas and more.
“There is very little capacity at these sites,” said Prunier, explaining the $16 million renovation and expansion estimate does not include issues such as mold, which could arise. “These buildings are tired. They need some help,” he added.
According to Mayor Jim Donchess, the city could obtain $3.9 million from the sale of city-owned land on Burke Street to help offset the cost of a proposed $10 million new public works building.
“Looking at the bonding schedule, yes, it appears that we can accommodate this along with the (middle) school project if we are careful in the way that we proceed,” said Donchess. “ … but it will take careful planning.”
Property at 141-143 Burke St. was acquired by the city for $4.2 million three years ago, and was initially eyed as the future home of the public works department, and potentially space for the Nashua School District’s administrative offices. Those projects, however, have not yet come to fruition, and earlier this year the 30-acre Burke Street parcel was subdivided and a 2.5 acre lot is now being reserved for the potential expansion of the wastewater treatment facility.
Aldermen must now decide whether to support the Board of Public Works’ proposal to spend $10 million on a new public works building next to the landfill. They will also soon be presented with a separate, multimillion project to address improvements needed at the city’s three middle schools, or a recommendation for a new middle school.
Tracy Pappas, commissioner for the Board of Public Works, said the $10 million public works building is a big investment that does not include a new public works garage.
“That is an awful lot of money to not address all of our problems,” said Pappas. “I really don’t think that this is a great approach to take.”
“The goal would be to move as many people over to the new building as possible. We would love to have a garage, of course, but it is just not financially feasible at this point,” said Lisa Fauteux, director of public works.
To address all of the needs within the public works department, including its garage space, Prunier said it would cost about $60 million.
Board of Public Works Commissioner G. Frank Teas said a new building would provide a healthy work environment for city staff, and allow for the repurposing of existing buildings.