by Dean Audet
The questions about whether we need a new highway garage and whether we should do it now are good ones. I have been working on the Highway Garage Committee for 5 years, here are some answers to your questions.
First, lets just be clear, the existing highway complex is polluting the environment and our neighbors. That needs to get cleaned up and a new salt shed is needed to prevent it from happening again in the future. We can do it now or wait for the state or our neighbors to sue us. At which point we will still do it while also paying lawyers fees.
Second, the highway garage expansion is being proposed for several reasons.
1) One of the storage buildings on-site needs to be torn down to allow for the environmental cleanup. The building leaks badly now (as anyone who went on the site visit two weekends ago can attest). We will have to build a new storage building anyways. Under this plan, this storage would be part of the highway garage building. No matter what, some building would have to be erected to replace this storage.
2) Today, we store 10 trucks and many other pieces of equipment outside. The trucks cost more than $150,000 apiece. Storing them outside shortens their serviceable life (think about the difference between storing a car in garage or outside). That costs us money today. The highway garage expansion will allow us to move those trucks indoors.
3) Even worse, their is no place to wash trucks on that site. It is illegal for the Town to wash trucks there as there is no system to collect runoff from the washing operation. It is not hard to do the math where we send trucks out to salt and sand our roads, don’t wash them and store them outside. This significantly shortens the life of our $150,000 trucks by years. The new highway buidling will have a state approved truck wash that can also wash fire trucks and school buses.
4) The existing building falls woefully short of building code and is unsafe in some areas. The improvements would also bring us to standard.
So why do this now?
1) Every day that we don’t do this we lose money by shortening the life of our expensive equipment. The people that are concerned that approving the bond for the highway garage will cause people argue against funding the schools need to keep in mind that spending money on trucks and other equipment does come from the same pot of money as the schools. Read the rest of this entry »