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Out with the old, in with the new

Highway garage construction begins

September 15, 2010
SANBORNTON — Last Thursday the walls came tumbling down in Sanbornton as crews began the job of replacing the dilapidated highway garage with a larger, more energy efficient facility to meet the growing needs of the Department of Public Works and protect valuable equipment from the elements.

The new fleet of vehicles purchased over the past few years was one reason supporters of the warrant article had urged voters to approve the bond. Selectmen said the town had spent the money to buy what was necessary for maintaining the roads, and it would better serve the community if that equipment could be now protected with an adequate garage.

"The working conditions in that building are deplorable. The guys can't even get some of the equipment inside to fix and maintain it," said Chairman David Nickerson during a selectmen's meeting last winter.

At Town Meeting in May voters agreed and approved a bond for $1.1 million to remove the old structure and construct a new highway garage.

Last week heavy equipment operators from Kip Cormier Construction in Northfield reduced the concrete block structure to rubble in just a short time, clearing the way for Conneston Construction, Inc. to assemble a new pre-fabricated building. As that work now gets underway, DPW director John Thayer said his department has moved its equipment to the Transfer Station and their offices have been temporarily set up at in a building with the Recreation Department off Shaw Hill Road.

"With any luck we'll be able to move back here with no problems in February," Thayer said.

Project Manager Dan Patch of CCI said he is very familiar with this type of construction, having built a new town garage for Tilton and other towns. Sanbornton's building will be similar to the one in Tilton, where he said they are enjoying the new space and energy efficiency of their facility. Patch said last Thursday that CCI's goal is to have the new structure complete by Feb. 14 but the DPW employees might be able to begin moving storage in before that time.

Some features of the new facility will be completed by subcontractors who will install energy efficient light fixtures, low-water flow faucets and other "little things that add up," Patch said.

Members of the town's energy committee worked with Thayer, town officials and CCI in making the building as eco-friendly as possible. Besides high R-value insulation and blower systems to help keep out cold temperatures and lower heating costs, the groundwork for radiant heating will be installed within the floor of the building.

"It's a whole system of pipes that run through the floor, so that needs to be installed before we pour the concrete if it's something they want to go with in the future," said Patch.

With the piping system in place the town can later complete the radiant heating system once more funds are available. Patch said some "tweaking" had been done to the original plans for the garage to keep it under the budget as voted on in May, but the end result would still be a modern structure that will serve the town well for many years.

"It's going to be three times bigger than the old building and probably won't even cost as much to heat," he said.

The 80 x 124 foot structure will have five bays for vehicles, two small offices, an employee break room, a mechanical room for the heating plant and even a storage mezzanine over the work area.

With diesel equipment left inside overnight in cold weather, there will be fewer problems starting the vehicles and getting the crews out on the road to plow.

Thayer said he is greatly looking forward to having a safe and efficient working environment for his employees.

"We'll be able to operate and do all the things we normally do in the meantime but it will be great when we can move everything back here to Hunkins Pond Road again. It should be a smooth transition to move everything back and until then, it's business as usual except that we're operating from Shaw Hill Road for now," he said.

Martin Lord Osman
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