TRURO — The select board went into “sticker shock” at the price of a proposed dept. of public works facility next to the police and fire station: $20 million.
While officials have been aware that the hodgepodge collection of DPW sheds and garages by town hall are inadequate, they were not pleased on Dec. 5 when Weston & Sampson Vice President Jeff Alberti, who did the needs assessment for the town, said the proposed 32,487-square-foot facility would cost $20 million or $513 per square foot. That’s well above the average cost for new DPW garages, $453 per square foot.
“I have sticker shock — that’s the only way to put it,” said Jan Worthington, chair of the select board. “It’s clear we need a new DPW, but I don’t know how the town can absorb the $20 million price.”
The costs for the new building include $1.8 million for “marketing and location” and $2.4 million for design contingencies and “escalation,” meaning inflation in construction costs. They added 4 percent to get contractors to drive all the way out to Truro, Alberti said.
The board’s Robert Weinstein called these predictions “way out of line.”
He said Orleans got a 42,278-square-foot DPW building for only $12.8 million in 2017.
If you look at the difference in the price per square foot, Weinstein said, “It’s a pretty hefty increase.”
Alberti said he gave the town the “worst-case” scenario to play it safe but admitted he could trim the costs before it was presented to voters. “The Orleans project bid in 2017 was actually a very good price,” he said, but soon after there was a spike in construction costs.
The Truro building would have a more attractive exterior than Orleans’s, since it will be on Route 6, he added.
The need for a new DPW has been on the town’s radar for several years. In 2015, town meeting voters approved $50,000 for the latest needs assessment. The delay of nearly four years was due to staff changes, said DPW Director Jarrod Cabral.
Long-time DPW Director Paul Morris retired in 2014. A new director, Jay Norton, took over but then left in September 2016. He is now the assistant DPW director in Wellfleet. Cabral said he had to take over the planning process when he was hired. He put out the request for proposals that resulted in the town hiring Weston & Sampson.
The planned location, on Route 6, is land Truro purchased years ago for less than $500,000 to construct the police and fire facility, said Town Manager Rae Ann Palmer. The 6.74-acre parcel was too large for the safety facility. The extra land had at one point been considered for affordable housing but that never got off the ground due to neighborhood opposition, Palmer said.
It would be set far from residential areas, with plenty of buffer space between the building and the neighborhood behind it. It would be visible from Route 6, Palmer said, but with some landscaping along the highway.
Among the arguments for the facility is the fact that Truro’s valuable plowing and landscaping vehicles are mostly parked outdoors, as there is not enough garage space.
Cabral said Truro has six garage bays that fit six trucks and two additional cold storage garage bays that hold smaller equipment.
That leaves about 22 pieces of equipment outdoors, he said.
“What we find ourselves doing just about every afternoon is juggling equipment, moving trucks in and out,” Cabral said.
He said the department is spending $6,000 to repaint the rusting undercarriage of a solid waste and recycling truck. And another truck that had been sandblasted and painted recently is showing signs of rust again.
DPW employees wash the salt off the trucks frequently but “it’s tough in the middle of winter to convince those guys to rinse that stuff off” outdoors, Cabral said.
The proposed building would hold all the vehicles.
The next step is to ask for $1.8 million for the design and bidding process at town meeting next spring. But after the meeting with the select board, Cabral said he is not sure he will bring it to town meeting so soon.