Public Works: $15 Million Investment

Public Works: $15 Million Investment

Jack Lange, Online Editor

In May of 2020, the Waterford Department of Public Works began to phase into their new building after 17 years of hard work. Overcoming fiscal, environmental, and construction difficulties, the roughly 60,000 square foot building opened fully in January 2021. Featuring a spacious garage to house the department’s many vehicles, a state-of-the-art mechanic shop, a wash bay sized to handle large collection vehicles, and office space for two departments, the building marks a victory for Waterford. 

In the early 2000s, the initiative to get a new space for the Waterford Department of Public Works began, with an attempt to renovate the old textile mill that the department inhabited. This proved to be a significant challenge, as the building presented problem after problem for renovation plans. Over a decade after the original charge, the town concluded that a new building was the best way to move forward. The committee in charge of overseeing the building worked for years to figure out what the Department of Public Works needed and worked to secure funding for the project. After they decided on the plan for the property, the committee worked alongside Anchor Engineering and O&G Industries Inc. to develop a multipurpose space that would meet the needs of the Department of Public Works, Waterford Utility Commission and best serve the town. 

As part of the project, the town was able to clean up a large area of contaminated ground around where the building would be constructed, contributing to the wellbeing of the environment. This land was contaminated by previous use of the property. Surveys had identified that the contamination was under a specific area of the building, but once these concerns were addressed a final test of the area around the building revealed that there was another contaminated spot. Looking back at old photographs of the property revealed this to be the long-term parking spot of a large truck. After the decontamination and construction of the building, the new building was designed to be more environmentally friendly than the proposed remodel.

The building houses all of the Public Works vehicles, increasing their lifespan and saving the town money. These vehicles are essential to the functioning of the town and are used to plow snow, salt roads, and maintain infrastructure. The mechanic shop services nearly all town vehicles, making use of multiple vehicle lifts. The service area features drive-throughs and drive-in areas to maximize efficiency in the space. A sign shop connected to the garage produces signage for the town and ensures that traffic signs in Waterford stay in operating condition. There is an open-air garage offset from the main building used to house sanitation trucks that keeps them protected from the elements and prolongs their lifespan, while also allowing them to maintain sanitary conditions inside of the garage.

Inside the administrative area, there are locker rooms, a conference space, and a breakroom with an employee kitchen. These are all major improvements from the old space, as employees would have to complete training modules at off-site locations, taking valuable time out of their day. The office space is shared with the Utility Commission Office, where residents can inquire about and pay their utility bills.

The complex site also houses a salt shed, workspaces for Public Works operations personnel, a Police Department shooting range, and a transfer station. Storage spaces are used to house town essentials such as garbage cans, spare parts for vehicles, and construction equipment. The building is also a FEMA regional point of distribution center, which can be used for natural disasters or other emergency events. The large garage space was recently used by Ledgelight Health District for a vaccine distribution center, providing vaccines for residents.

This $15 million project is a major accomplishment for the Town of Waterford and the Public Works Department. The building has a wide range of use to support the town and improves the efficacy of the Public Works Department. The Waterford Department of Public Works is very grateful for the opportunity that they have been given with this building, and hope that it will serve as a blueprint for other departments.