The city is eyeing a $12 million overhaul of the City Yard to improve efficiency and protect municipal vehicles and equipment better.
As part of the project, officials are also exploring the possibility of consolidating all of the vehicle maintenance for every municipal department and the school system at the revamped facility.
Mayor Art Ward said it “would be foolish” to spend millions to update the aging public works yard without incorporating the parks, schools, police, fire and other departments under the same roof.
Public Works Director Walter Veselka said he has long “been a proponent of consolidating that maintenance function” in a single location.
A consultant has developed four options for reconfiguring the City Yard, which he said is currently laid out inefficiently and relies on a main building that is “quite dilapidated.”
A proposed master plan would move the fueling station, add more maintenance bays, add offices and storage areas and include more places for vehicles to park under cover to lengthen their lifespan, said Tom Arcari, a principal in the Farmington-based Quisenberry Arcari Associates.
The option pushed by Arcari would include a new entrance, a new employee parking lot on the north side of Vincent P. Kelly Road, more administrative space and a host of improvements to the storage and maintenance functions that are the heart of the operation.
“We’re trying to create a new image for the facility,” he said.
Arcari said the city doesn’t have to do the whole project at once. It can be divided into phases so that taxpayers don’t have to fork over the entire amount in one year.
Pulling all of the city’s maintenance on vehicles into one place would obviously require more space, officials said.
“Now is the time” to make that decision, said George Wallace, the assistant public works director.
The Public Works Board recently unanimously called for the consultant to move forward on the assumption that other departments will also be using the revamped yard.
If that happens, the most visible change for residents might be the closure of the Park Department’s small garage at Rockwell Park, which could be razed, officials said.
One key element in the redesign so far is the creation of a new fueling station on the west end of the yard, where vehicles could easily pull and refill at a lighted station with video cameras recording exactly who’s using it, officials said.
Arcari, who helped redesign New Britain’s yard, said the existing fuel depot “is in a horrible location” and needs to be moved to improve efficiency.
Besides, he said, the underground tanks it uses are slated for replacement in seven years anyway.
Moving the fuel station would make drive-through bays possible for a far more modern maintenance system, he said.
An overhaul of the salt storage shed is also needed, Arcari said.
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