NEWPORT, Maine — An aging and crumbling public works building is on the road to replacement.
Last week, Newport Town Selectmen approved the site plan for a new 10,000-square-foot garage located on Cemetery Road across from the town’s transfer station.
The project could cost $1.3 million, but Newport Town Manager James Ricker said that steps will be taken that “would bring that building in at the most economical cost possible.”
The current public works garage, located next to the police and fire station on Water Street, was constructed in the late 1950s.
“It’s in very poor condition,” said Ricker. “The foundation footings and walls have separated and cracked. The foundation work wasn’t done to the construction standards that would be done today. It’s caused settling and separation from cement and cracks right down through cinder blocks.
“Structurally, on a scale of 1 to 10, it’s probably a 5 or 6,” he added. “A section of roof is in need of replacement and the entire heating system all needs to be replaced.”
It also is not big enough to house all of the town’s equipment, which is currently spread throughout Newport, he said.
“Do we put money into a building that can’t house our stock? It’s outlived itself,” said Ricker. “We got 60 to 65 years out of this building and we’ve been putting a little here and there into it, but the building no longer meets the needs of the town. For that reason, we’re looking to replace it.”
The proposed building would have five garage bay doors in the front, one in the back, an office and room to work on the vehicles. It will measure approximately 100 by 100 feet. The site plans were designed by Dirigo Engineering of Fairfield.
“It’s a very basic building,” he said. “It’s a building to meet our needs, and we feel it will meet our needs 50 years into the future.”
Ricker and Public Works Director Larry Merrithew recently visited public works garages in Fairfield, Waterville and Winslow to get ideas of what was needed for the new garage.
Newport already owns the property where the proposed garage would sit.
The new building must be approved by a vote of residents at the town meeting in March.
The public works garage is the first in what is likely a two-building project, according to Ricker.
After the new garage is constructed, the old garage on Water Street would be demolished, and a planned new public safety building to house the police and fire departments could take its place.