Hadley needs new DPW headquarters, consultants say

  • The town of Hadley DPW highway garage at 230 Middle St., built in 1970, is insufficient for the town’s needs, engineering consultants have concluded. GAZETTE FILE PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

Staff Writer
Published: 9/25/2022 8:06:11 PM

HADLEY — Deteriorating trailers being used for Department of Public Works offices and an aging and inadequate garage to store and maintain the town’s fleet of vehicles are prompting Hadley officials to begin looking into building a modern headquarters.

In the first report from Weston & Sampson engineers, hired about a year ago to examine the town’s needs, the Select Board at its Sept. 21 meeting was informed that significant improvements should be made to the DPW facility.

“These buildings are outdated in a way that they do not accommodate the current DPW needs,” said Jamay Li, an architect with Weston & Sampson.

Li elaborated on some of the issues at the 230 Middle St. site, including that the overhead door clearance at the garage doesn’t allow school buses to be driven inside, and that there is not enough vertical and horizontal room to accommodate other parts of the town’s fleet.

The three temporary trailers have limited room for employees and many of the amenities, including the locker room, bathrooms and a break area, are outdated for the department’s 14 to 15 employees, Li said. While she estimated the trailers have been on site for 20 years, Select Board Chairwoman Jane Nevinsmith said they likely are closer to 40 years old, recalling their existence when she first came to town.

Michael Richard, discipline leader for Weston & Sampson’s facilities group, said a new headquarters would improve employee safety, safeguard the town’s investment in vehicles, create a more efficient workspace and prevent contamination of groundwater as vehicles are washed.

But before any project can get underway, the town needs to form a DPW Committee and then undertake a public outreach campaign to build support for it, Richard said.

“We’ve got to wrap up the feasibility study and the concepts, we’ve got to come up with a site, and put the town in a direction moving forward,” Richard said.

The town formed a DPW Feasibility Study Committee and a year ago signed a contract with Weston & Sampson, said Town Administrator Carolyn Brennan.

Brennan said the next phase likely will be asking annual Town Meeting next spring to continue the study for the project. The building committee could also be formed in the meantime.

Richard said the highway, building maintenance and equipment maintenance operations are the focus, with the water treatment and wastewater treatment branches having their own facilities.

The salt dome and fuel dispensers, which are outdated, could be incorporated into any plan for a new project.

Since the DPW is on call 24 hours a day and supports other emergency departments, Richard said having a good facility is vital.

“The important takeaway is that the DPW touches the lives of all residents every day,” Richard said

The engineers are not working with any specific site yet, but Li said several locations are being examined, including the existing site at the end of Middle Street, the land adjacent to the North Hadley fire substation, and two properties on Bay Road. The idea is to mostly town-owned sites that wouldn’t require new allocation of money that would be added to any construction costs, Li said.

Scott Merzbach can be reached at smerzbach@gazettenet.com.
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