Dec. 13, 2017 — By Christmas, Florence Public Works will be entirely moved in to its new Public Works Operations Facility at 2675 Kingwood St. The 2.75-acre lot now houses a 5,942 square-foot office building and a 7,754 square-foot maintenance building.
“It’s been a long process,” said Florence Public Works Director Mike Miller. “The light at the end of the tunnel is showing up. It’s nice to be in a modern facility.”
Public Works office staff and crewmembers all have workspace in the new office building, with room to spare.
Amenities include a reception area, customer service counter, training room, conference room, enclosed offices, open workspaces, storage and even a fully equipped kitchen.
Miller said that the facility was planned with the latest in energy efficient ratings in mind, from the appliances in the kitchen to the LED lighting throughout both buildings.
“With all the LEDs, our solar panels should supply most of the power for this building,” he said. “There’s no battery or anything. It meets the demand, and whatever is excess will go back to Central Lincoln PUD.”
Design elements include the use of polished and sealed cement floors, high ceilings and exposed materials, including a white vapor barrier covered in sustainable beetle kill pine, also known as blue stain pine.
“They did a good job on the color,” Miller said. “U of O inside, OSU on the outside,” he said of the calm green interior paint and the bright pops of orange on the exterior trim.
Outside, the solar panels across the front of the building form an awning effect.
“We wanted things simplistic and industrial,” he said.
In the crew space, two of the restrooms have showers, and the building has a mudroom to take care of soaked rain slickers and muddy boots.
In addition, each crew member has a locker and an individual workspace, a welcome upgrade.
“They can do paperwork, take phone calls, keep track of orders and store personal items,” Miller said. “They’re all really excited about their offices, and they have some nice things now. I wanted to make sure, instead of bringing old furniture that they had for years, they got all new furniture and chairs.”
The maintenance building is an open space that has an exhaust system, water sprinklers and heating, and enough room to store and work on several full-sized rigs.
“We purposely made it double deep, based on the size of our biggest truck,” Miller said. “Even though it’s only four bays, you should be able to park like three pick-ups at each. There should be plenty of room. It has very high ceilings. … Well, if you bring in the dump truck and you have to lift it, you need the height.”
The facility is equipped to run for 24 hours a day in the likelihood of a natural disaster.
During the Dec. 4 Florence City Council meeting, the council approved Resolution No. 23, Series 2017, a resolution authorizing staff to submit an application for a $108,000 State Homeland Security Grant for the purchase of an emergency power generator and other emergency equipment for the Public Works Facility. This is a reimbursement grant with no match requirement.
“If we are successful in obtaining the grant from the Oregon Office of Emergency Management for the emergency power generator, yard lights and equipment to outfit the emergency operation center and training room, this will go a long way to fully realizing the potential of the new facility,” the staff report stated.
Even without the grant, Miller said there is a disaster plan in place for the building and the crews who would likely be on call.
The location on Kingwood Street factored into the operation facility’s plan.
“We’ve been working on this for quite a while,” Miller said. “We went through a selection process and looked at a number of different sites.”
Public Works leases the lot from Florence Municipal Airport, which will use the approximately $36,000 a year for airport operations.
“Everything on Kingwood Street, south of 27th down to the military museum, is lease-only lots,” Miller said.
Money from those leases, and the sale of lots at the Pacific View Business Park, go to Florence’s airport for its operations.
According to the City of Florence Adopted Biennial Budget 2017-19, the city awarded the operations facility construction contract for $3.13 million in December 2016.
“The City of Florence is financing this construction, and has taken out a loan to do this project at a great interest rate. The utilities facilities that operate out of this pay that back,” Miller said. “We have plans over the next five years to fully build out. We have lots of space needs, and we’ll be able to do it over time.”
He said the current plan is to add a stormwater treatment facility to the lot.
“It will be a mirror image of the existing maintenance building, and another $800,000 item.
“We’ve laid it out already, it’s just a matter of executing it and getting it built,” Miller said.
The old Public Works building, 989 Spruce St., had “issues,” Miller said, including only one working furnace, a leaking roof and electrical problems.
The building has been around since the 1950s, and was originally a police station.
“Public Works has always been at that site. We were in one of the metal barns for years, which was essentially a two-office building with a restroom and crew area. When the police moved to the Justice Center, that’s when Public Works took over the main building,” Miller said.
Now that Public Works is mostly moved out, the old building will be “patched” and used for temporary storage during the planned Florence City Hall remodel, which could begin in January.
“We’re seeing a two-year plan,” Miller said. “Once all the projects are complete and everything is moved out, then we’d be talking about demolition of the facility. … It needs to go away. It’s served its purpose.”
Miller explained that the neighboring Gallagher’s Park will encompass the Spruce Street location.
“We’ll go through a planning process to develop it as a park. It is deed restricted to be used as a park once police and public works move out,” he said.
During that planning process, the City of Florence will look at the needs of the area and usage of the park. This could mean an expansion of the park’s Rhododendron Garden, an increased presence of the Salmon Trout Enhancement Program on Munsel Creek or even courts for tennis, pickleball or basketball.
Another unused aspect of the Spruce Street site is the old water tower, which Miller said “will never” be brought back in use.
“It’s at the wrong elevation - too low. It doesn’t match the other reservoirs,” he said. “There’s a lot of talk about what to do with the tank. It’s going to cost money to take it down.”
It would take $80-100,000 to remove the tower and gain “scrap value” from any metal, after the removal of lead paint and the cold tar lining.
“It is pretty iconic to come into town and see the structure. The Public Art Committee is very interested in it, and they know what it would cost to renovate it,” Miller said. “It would probably be a $350,000 to $500,000 prospect to paint the tank. That includes taking care of the ladder climbs, metal loss, repairs and safety.”
He said he hopes the city looks into unique ways of repurposing the tank, just as he hopes Gallagher’s Park can add something by expanding into the property.
“There’s definitely something there to look at, and not just say, ‘It needs to come down,’” he said.
As for the City Hall remodel, Florence City Council is expected to look at bids during the Dec. 18 council meeting.
“We’ll know then where we stand, and then hopefully everything is placed, they accept the bids, award the contract and give notice to proceed. The contractor should get started toward the end of January, which just gives enough time to get people moved out of City Hall and get everyone settled again,” Miller said.
During the City Hall remodel, the new Public Works facility will also house the Planning Department and customer service. City Hall’s other functions will go the Florence Justice Center.