Mill Street

Wastewater Collection Department Superintendent Ray Hale stands in the new Mill Street Facility in front of new department equipment. Photo by Carly Carver.

ASHLAND – City of Ashland construction of a new facility for municipal workers that began in 2015 is coming to an end and, despite delays, is currently under budget.

The Mill Street Facility Project is a city initiative to provide new facilities for the Wastewater Collection Department and Water Distribution and Meter Services in a new 20,000 square foot building. The cost of building the 200’ by 100’ facility, not including design, security, and site work, was $1,468,371.88 according to the City of Ashland Director of Engineering and Utilities Ryan Eastwood.

The Mill Street Facility building budget was $1,540,000.

These items were budgeted and funded with proceeds from a 2015 Utility Bond Issue. The project was completed in phases with phase one including a shell package with the concrete floors, the building, the steel structure, and the roof. Phase two then bid for the interior which included the plumbing, the drywall, the electrical, and all the finished offices.

The subcontracts not included in the building budget cost above, including design, survey, demolition, asbestos abatement, security system, fencing, and site concrete work have a site work and contingency budget of $200,000, said Eastwood. The estimated cost, completed, in progress, and projected is $145,000. Eastwood said the design budget was $100,000 and the actual design cost was $89,235. Eastwood said the project is not over budget.

Wastewater Collection Department

Mill Street

 Water Distribution and Meter Services Superintendent Reed Downs stands in the new Mill Street Facility in front of where his five crew trucks will be located. Photo by Carly Carver.

The Wastewater Collection Department now has large facilities and improved equipment that enables them to expand their services, provide those services safer and more efficiently, and a larger facility to house that equipment, conduct training, and decrease the risks that workers were exposed to at the former facility.

“We anticipate that this side will house about a million dollars’ worth of equipment,” Eastwood said in reference to the Wastewater Collection Department section of the building.

The tour of the old Wastewater Collection Facility showed multiple leaks, and the potential for health and safety risks as well as mold for city workers.

“The whole place was starting to fall down,” Wastewater Collection Sewer Maintenance Field Supervisor Bruce Worthington said. “It served the city well for as many years as it did.”

Eastwood said that there is the potential for mold in the old building, and where there is mold there are health concerns for city workers.

Mill Street

The new Mill Street Facility Project will house the Wastewater Collection Department, and over a million dollars worth of equipment, including the two trucks depicted. The project is expected to be completely finished in the next month. Photo by Carly Carver.

“It’s harmful for the employees,” Eastwood said.

The old facility was also hard on morale for city workers, as the workers had a leaking roof, as well as other damaged infrastructure, said Worthington. Worthington is among many workers who are looking forward to using the new equipment.

“The new trucks are a lot better,” Worthington said.

The old facility is set to be demolished within the next month, Eastwood said. The city is awaiting a letter of temporary occupancy for the new building before the old building can be demolished, allowing the workers to temporarily occupy the new building while the city finishes meeting state regulations to acquire a letter of permanent occupancy.

Water Distribution and Meter Services

The Water Distribution and Meter Services Department has larger facilities now as well housed in the same building that hosts approximately 40 employees.

“We will have five trucks in here,” Water Distribution and Meter Services Department Superintendent Reed Downs said. “We will have a hydrant shop in here. A pump station office here, which we’ve never had before.”

The facility will also have a meter test bench, where meters will be tested every two years. The City of Ashland has approximately 15,000 meters.

The Mill Street Facility Project had its ribbon cutting ceremony in December of 2015 and the project has faced delays.

“The city lost expanded jurisdiction which is the ability to review and inspect commercial buildings over 10,000 square feet and over 100 occupants,” Eastwood said. The delay happened in November 2017 after the building was under construction, and a stop work order was issued February 2, 2018.

“The state indicated that the building plans must be submitted to the state for review and approval prior to proceeding,” Eastwood said. “After addressing all the state requirements, the City was given a conditional approval to proceed on July 17, 2018.”

This caused the city a five-and-a-half-month delay.

Eastwood said there were also some additional changes required by the state not identified by the original plan review and approval which caused some project delays as well.

Eastwood said this was part of the city’s initiative to make good fiscal decisions for the long run.

“Everyone has seen the need (for the new building),” Eastwood said, adding “these employees deserve it.”