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Plan for salt shed replacement tabled in Wakefield

by Thomas Beeler
Editor of The Granite State News

A SALT SHED similar to the one proposed by Selectman Charlie Edwards for Wakefield, from the SteelMaster website. Edwards' design would add concrete buttresses to both sides and the rear wall and narrow "return" walls in front to increase rigidity. The Edwards proposal will be discussed again at the May 14 Board of Selectmen meeting. (Courtesy photo) (click for larger version)
May 01, 2014
WAKEFIELD — Last September Selectman Charlie Edwards presented his estimates for a new building to replace the town's deteriorating salt shed at the highway department. At that time Edwards' $75,000 plan cost more than the $55,000 available in capital reserve that would be used to fund the construction, and the proposal was put aside.

In March voters approved adding $20,000 to the reserve, bringing the total to $75,000, and last Wednesday, April 23, Edwards returned with a new and improved plan that he estimates would cost less than that total.

Instead of building one large 40- by 60-foot building with a divider to separate sand from sand mixed with salt, he proposed to build two 25- by 40-foot sheds, set 20 feet part, with sand in one and sand-salt mix in the other. Each building will have concrete footings, 4-foot frost walls and 8-foot above-ground walls, topped with an arched steel quonset-type roof structure. The concrete will be reinforced with 1-foot-by-1-foot steel rebar and will have buttresses on both sides and the back wall. The concrete will also be coated with a special barrier to keep salt from attacking the concrete.

Edwards explained that a major advantage of having two buildings that are 25 feet wide as opposed to one that is 60 feet is that the center lift height in the narrower buildings is 21 feet, allowing trucks to dump sand and salt directly inside. The larger building would limit lift height at the two bays, meaning trucks would have to dump in the front and have the sand and salt pushed in with a loader.

The other advantage is cost. A narrow span does not need the higher gauge steel of the wide span.

Selectman Chair Ken Paul asked if the structure comes with a warranty. Edwards said the steel span from SteelMaster comes with a 30-year warranty.

Paul said he prefers to have one contractor do the foundation digging, concrete work and construction under a single bid. He also asked if test pits had been dug to make sure the soils were stable for the buildings. Finally he raised the question of whether voters approved building only one salt shed, not two.

Williams said she would look at the language of the warrant articles on the question of whether one building is specified.

Edwards responded that what he is proposing is the equivalent of two, two-car garages, not a major building that would require engineering drawings and extensive testing. He said to build a 40- by 60-foot stick-built shed would run at least $20,000 more than his plan for two buildings. The SteelMaster buildings also come with three sets of blueprints.

His estimate includes a saving of 15 percent from the town buying the materials rather than going through a contractor and also includes a discount for buying two buildings instead of one. He said he feels he may be able to work with a neighboring town to bring the number of buildings up to three, earning an additional saving on all three buildings.

Paul, who is code enforcement officer for the Town of Acton, Maine, said that Acton has a collapsing salt shed due to building without checking soil conditions. He was also concerned about the snow load on the arched steel roof.

Former Selectman John Blackwood, who was in the audience, stated he has a similar 30- by 60-foot steel building that is unheated and it had no snow load at all: the snow slides off.

Paul repeated his preference for having a contractor do the work rather than using subcontractors and town employees in order to protect the taxpayers.

Edwards said SteelMaster has a contractor in Mendon, Mass., who puts up its buildings, but that would add at least 10 percent to the cost and bring it over the $75,000 in the reserve. "There would not be enough money to do two," he said, if a contractor were used. He said he plans to supervise the work, and all that is needed is to rent a scissors lift.

Paul responded by suggesting doing one this year and the second next year. He suggested tabling the proposal to the next meeting on May 14 when Selectman Twombley would be present. In the meantime he suggested test pits be dug.

In the days after the April 23 meeting Edwards contracted the contractor in Mendon, which is in western Massachusetts. The contractor told him that it would not be worth his while to travel to Wakefield to do the work.

Test pits were also dug in the proposed area and they showed a stable soil base, according to Edwards.

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