Last month, the Brooksville City Council considered a recommendation by city manager Ron Snowberger and Public Works director Paul Booth to build a new Public Works / Municipal Utilities facility that will meet the needs of the city now and into the future.
Paul Booth, Public Works Director, provided background on the building, the problems it is facing and was asking for direction and guidance from the council on how to move forward. The current DPW facility was built in 1941, with additions added in 1945 and 1947. The building was originally constructed as a facility for a block company. The building was then purchased by Withlacoochee River Electric. In 1988 the facility was purchased by the City of Brooksville and has been utilized to house Public Works and Municipal Utilities since that time.
While the facility has been adequate to meet the minimum requirements of DPW and Municipal Utilities for several years, it no longer meets those needs. In May 2021 there was a partial ceiling collapse in the main reception area. The Fire Marshall and building officials declared the front sections of the building unsafe. At that time DPW and Municipal Utilities staff were relocated to other areas of the building to facilitate operations. They have been able to continue with operations, however it has been difficult. There is no way for the public to enter the building without passing through their warehouse space, several spaces are serving as multi-purpose areas, the building is not ADA compliant, they do not have enough space for storage of all of their material, and the building has mold and mildew issues. In addition to the problems with the main building, their fleet services department is operating out of a shop that is far too small, exposed to the elements, has power problems, and has no air conditioning. Considering the age, condition, size, and expense of retrofitting the existing structures, Booth asked Council to consider building a new DPW / Municipal Utilities facility, on property owned by the City, that will meet their current needs and their needs well into the future.
-Do not build a new facility.
-Retrofit the existing DPW building and build a new Fleet Facility.
-Purchase an existing building that will meet our needs.
Booth stated, “In a nutshell the facility is old. It has served its purposes and it’s done it well for a number of years. But it is an outdated facility and it’s an undersized facility. We don’t have the proper storage space and we’re running out of room for equipment in the outside fields. We do not have proper facilities for our staff. It’s difficult to have the public come by and to conduct professional meetings in the current environment, simply because of the fact we are undersized and we are old and antiquated.”
The current and future needs are:
- Adequate space for all Public Works & Municipal Utilities Operations:
- Streets, Stormwater, Traffic Operations, Facilities Maintenance, & Fleet Services
- Water, Waste Water & Meter services
- DPW & Municipal Utilities Administration
- Updated communications and computer system
- Ample storage for equipment and materials
- Proper facilities for staff (locker rooms, showers, restrooms, kitchenette/break room, office
- Adequate administrative space
- New Fleet Facility
- Public reception area
- Professional conference room
- Emergency Operations Center
Booth recommended to the council the building of a new 30,000 sq. ft facility just northwest of the existing building.
Facility can be built on property that is already owned by the City of Brooksville
- We will be able to continue to work out of the existing facility until the new facility is complete
- Will provide space to meet all of our needs now and for future expansion
- Improve the overall appearance of the neighborhood
- Provide a comfortable and professional facility for residents and staff
- Be able to serve as an Emergency Operations Center for Emergency Management
Booth estimated the cost to build the new facility at $1.45 million. He reasoned that the city would have a difficult time selling the current DPW property due to 36 monitoring wells on the property and its classification as a brownfield site.
“Because of the old contamination that currently exists on that property. Until that property is cleared, it can only be used for certain things. It would be our intent to maintain part of that facility, as a fleet storage facility. We would probably level the existing garage and welding shop as a fleet storage area. We can also use it for extra storage for the equipment we use for our daily operations. There is also a wash-down rack on the property, which is used for the washing of our garbage trucks daily. As part of our deal with Hernando County, they also utilize that wash down area for their heavy equipment and in exchange for that service, they maintain that facility for us. They dispose of the dirt and debris for us on a regular basis,” said Booth.
Councilmember Bailey expressed his concerns with the construction numbers, they’re loose. He stated, ”They could be twice that for all we know.” He suggested repairing the current building to use as office space, then building a smaller building northwest of it for the warehouse. Booth said that can be a possibility, the new structure would need to be at least 20,000 square feet.
Vice Mayor Battista does like the recommendation from Booth and would like to see it explored further. He also points out that the council is looking for the safest and most cost-efficient way to fix this problem. Councilmember Erhard made a motion for Paul Booth to hire a consultant to come back with three proposals so the council can pick the most cost-effective one. The three proposals being:
- Cost to fix the current building
- Cost to build a new warehouse for workers, and renovate the current building for office space
- A new price to nix everything and build one new complex
The motion passed 3-2, Battista and Brayton opposing