An upgraded Westbrook Public Services facility has been a long time coming – especially for the employees who call it home at least five days a week.

Construction crews working on the city’s $8.9 million consolidated public services and fleet maintenance facility this week were putting together some key elements of the project, including a technologically advanced heating system for the entire garage floor.

Arty Ledoux, the director of operations at Westbrook Public Services, on Monday traversed a layer of green plastic foam and rubber tubing covering the floor, as employees of Great Falls Construction laid metal rebar to prepare the floor for concrete. Ledoux, like other employees, is impressed with the technology, which will make the building efficient, especially during long winters.

According to Todd Demarais, the project manager from Great Falls, the green material is known as “crete heat,” 2-inch think insulation board with a built-in vapor barrier, and there are “spacing flowers” to lock in the radiant heat.

“It looks like a giant Lego set,” he said Wednesday. “But it’s a very, very nice product.”

Demarais said the rate of efficiency for the roof panels and walls, which were constructed during the last few, is “way above” what is required by code.

“It will keep guys warmer during the winter when they’re working on vehicles,” he said, adding that the radiant-heat floors will also keep employees safer by drying out the floor. About 38 employees will work at the facility.

The entire project includes the new public services and fleet maintenance garage, a new sand and salt shed, a school transportation administration building and a new fueling station. The existing public services building will be used for cold storage.

Demarais said the projected completion dates are Aug. 1 for the school transportation building, Sept. 1 for the fleet maintenance building and Oct. 1 for the existing building to be used as storage.

“Everything’s going very nicely,” he said.

The school transportation office is slated to be up and running by the start of the school year. Currently, the department’s school buses are housed behind Westbrook Middle School.

Discussions about upgrading the facility began roughly a decade ago. More than five years ago, a building committee began planning a proposed new facility, and at the time, the aging Saco Street building, constructed in the 1950s, was considered too small for the department. In May 2011, the city hired Sebago Technics to design the new facility.

All the while, Ledoux, who has worked in the existing facility since 2000, and other employees made the best of what they had. Tom Eldridge, former public services director, retired last year, just as construction was beginning on the project.

Following his departure, Eric Dudley took over as director of public services and engineering. Dudley said Tuesday that the project is “on schedule and on budget.”

While the long wait most likely has longtime employees excited for the new facility, Dudley said the crew has been business as usual. Most employees report to work at the facility and then leave to work at locations around Westbrook.

“I think there’s a general sense of eagerness to get into the new facility,” Dudley said. “They’re going to have a proper locker room, a real lunch room and a training space.”

Dudley said the current lunch room consists of a few picnic tables, not separated much from nearby fumes from the garage. The new facility will also feature a training and conference room that Dudley said could host local public meetings.

“Right now the city doesn’t have any sort of public meeting space in this area,” he said.

Demarais said the salt shed structure should be done this week.

“Believe it or not, I’ve heard a lot of excitement about the sand and salt shed,” Dudley said.

Westbrook residents approved a $9 million bond in 2014 to pay for the project, and while it may be considered a high figure, City Administrator Jerre Bryant believes it’s a good deal for what the city is getting.

Bryant said the designers originally came forward with a $17 million price tag, which he said was twice as much as the city could afford. He said the team then eliminated or downsized certain elements, including the removal of enclosed parking areas, reducing the size of the garage by two bays and redesigning the salt shed.

But, he said, “We didn’t cheapen what we were doing. Nothing is less quality, we simply eliminated some components. I think we got a beautiful facility up there.”

Bryant said the city of South Portland recently awarded the construction contract for a new, $19 million consolidated public services facility.

The week of May 16-22 is National Public Works Week in the country. Next year, Westbrook’s crew will be celebrating the week in its new home.

Bryant said that when Ledoux recently gave him a tour of the construction site, Ledoux told him, “We’re getting everything we need.”

Employees of Great Falls Construction drag rebar onto the floor of Westbrook’s new combined public services and fleet maintenance facility Monday, which will feature radiant heat. A layer of concrete will be poured over the green material and rebar Thursday.

An overhead shot of the new public services facility shows the green plastic interior of what will be a radiant heat floor. The fleet maintenance garage will service all of the city’s vehicles, including police, fire and school buses.


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