Huntsville is looking at options to overhaul or replace its nearly 40-year-old public works yard.
Madill Works Yard currently houses the town’s roads department, with a large portion of the town fleet and other public works operations, as well as a waste transfer station, sewage waste pond, and salt storage for the district.
“The roads department has definitely outgrown that facility,” says Tarmo Uukkivi, Huntsville’s Director of Operations and Protective Services. According to Uukkivi, the building was constructed in 1984 and has not had any major renovations since. Although the current foundation is stable, he says it’s long past its replacement life.
“We absolutely do make small-scale renovations just to keep things up running, up to code, and safe for everybody that uses the facility,” says Uukkivi. “There are a lot of things that we are currently able to completely deliver our services with, but that could be done much better and more efficiently.”
The two options on the table are a full overhaul of the existing building or a ground-up rebuild on new land. According to Uukkivi, broad estimates for the overhaul come in under $9 million, while a rebuild could cost more than $15 million.
Either option would come with a number of improvements to existing operations.
“The building itself is extremely old, and there are a number of deficiencies that do not allow for optimal operations,” says Uukkivi. “For example, the garages are not large enough to house some of the equipment that we have to maintain. We would have to raise the roof, completely replace it, and do significant work in the garage space.”
Other items include maintaining fire department vehicles at the yard and converting some parts of the town fleet to electric or hybrid vehicles, such as bylaw services or other departments. Uukkivi says that would require upgrading the building’s electrical system to match.
The biggest boost, however, would be to fully cover the mixture used to de-ice roads. “The most important addition would be sand and salt domes to shelter the sand that we use in the winter on the roadways so that it’s not frozen,” says Uukkivi, adding that it freezes in chunks and takes longer to get through machinery, which slows winter road clearing operations.
The administrative office for Uukkivi’s division– which includes the roads, parks, cemeteries, transit, and engineering departments– would also be expanded into a multi-service campus for town services.
“We would also be adding space for other town departments and divisions to improve meeting space requirements,” says Uukkivi. “Right now, the town is very limited in the meeting space that we’re able to host meetings with residents, constituents, and other agencies.”
Uukkivi says staff will come back to town council when they have a better idea of properties for lease or purchase, or how to better use existing town-owned properties. That’ll likely be in the late summer or fall.