Rockland scales back public works garage project to $2.4 million

Posted Aug. 26, 2013, at 8:22 a.m.

ROCKLAND, Maine — City officials hope the third time will be the charm in their efforts to get voter approval for a new public works garage.

The city council was expected to take an initial vote Monday night on placing a bond issue before voters on Nov. 5. If it is approved Monday night, a second and final vote would be taken Sept. 9.

The difference between the two referendums that failed and this time is the amount being proposed for borrowing. The estimated cost this year of constructing the garage and a salt and sand shed is $2.4 million.

Voters have twice rejected a referendum to borrow money for a new public works complex, once in 2007 and most recently in November 2011 when residents voted 895-881 against borrowing $2.9 million. A recount was held but the outcome did not change.

City Manager James Smith said Friday the city has worked to reduce the scope and cost of the project. The last referendum called for construction of an 18,000-square-foot garage and a 70-by-130-foot salt and sand shed that would have been located on the grounds of the existing public works garage.

“We worked hard on keeping the costs down and still having it functional,” Smith said.

The new proposal calls for a 14,000-square-foot garage and salt and sand shed on city-owned land next to the transfer station.

The garage would replace the 7,200-square-foot 1950s metal building, which city officials have repeatedly said has significant deficiencies.

The city has said a salt and sand shed is needed because the sand is stored outside and up to a quarter of it is lost each year when it gets washed away in rain or becomes inefficient because it clumps due to it being wet. The salt is stored on the current public works property on Burrows Street, off Pleasant Street, which also causes concern about salt entering a nearby brook.

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