By Jef Rietsma
Final details regarding a long-overdue public works building are being worked out by Vicksburg officials.
Village council members heard an update Feb. 1 from Village Manager Jim Mallery about a new road salt building to replace one built in the 1950s on North Main Street, just north of the railroad tracks.
Mallery said funding for the project started about three years ago, when the village began tucking away funds with the intent of eventually replacing the structure. He said an initial $100,000 was set aside in the 2018-19 fiscal year. Another $100,000 was added a year later. The fund now has close to $350,000.
“Our goal is to never take on debt on these types of projects,” he said, noting the low bid was a not-to-exceed amount of $355,000. The high bid came in at just over $426,000.
Alex Lee, director of community engagement, said the salt building has served the village well. However, Lee added, its doors are inoperable, and the approach to the building is worn down and as a result collects water. Also, there are a number of structural issues. Because of the problems, equipment is kept in an adjacent 60-by-100-foot building also showing its age, Lee said.
The cramped conditions often require workers to shuffle equipment and temporarily set it outdoors to access equipment needed for a specific task, Lee said.
“The small area that serves as the heated maintenance area for our crew doubles as the storage area for our vital plow and salt trucks,” he said. “Even using every square inch available leaves some very expensive and critical equipment exposed to the elements.”
Benefits of the new 6,000-square-foot building include improved energy efficiency, additional inside storage, and more resources to keep the DPW staff and equipment operating as effectively as possible.
DPW director Randy Schippers pointed out rain leaks into the existing salt storage building, causing salt to clump.
“We’ve got probably $50,000 to $75,000 worth of equipment and vehicles sitting outside,” Schippers said, adding an additional building would put the department “in excellent shape” and everything that should be inside would be under roof. “The existing barn, the back of it, is just costing us a fortune to heat.”
Council members ultimately approved a bid from Larry Mallory Pole Buildings not to exceed $355,000.
Mallery, noting he is not related to Larry Mallory, said the existing salt barn should be razed by the end of March. Work on its replacement is slated to begin by the end of April, Mallery said.
By Jef Rietsma