Progress is made on new public works buildingFlanked on all sides by support beams and heavy machinery, the walls of a soon-to-be structure cast shadows in the fading winter sunlight Wednesday afternoon.
By: Mike Enright, Alexandria Echo Press
Flanked on all sides by support beams and heavy machinery, the walls of a soon-to-be structure cast shadows in the fading winter sunlight Wednesday afternoon.
Just visible over the horizon from the intersection of County Roads 82 and 22, the forming box-like building lies directly south of the county fairgrounds, in plain sight of the grandstand’s benches.
Douglas County’s new public works facility is beginning to take shape.
Construction has progressed quickly since crews first broke ground on the $6.8 million, 50,000 square-foot building in late September.
It has to. They’re on a tight deadline.
“We’re condensing the time,” said Earl Fuechtmann of the county-hired construction management firm, Contegrity Group, Inc. “It’s moving along at probably an accelerated pace.”
Moving public works is part of the county’s plan for replacing its obsolete downtown jail, which the Minnesota Department of Corrections plans to shut down in August 2009. By then, the county has to have made “significant progress” on an up-to-code replacement jail facility, or it will have to ship its prisoners elsewhere, at a cost of thousands of dollars per day.
The county plans to remodel the current public works site into its new jail, but that construction can’t happen until the department is moved out.
Despite the compressed timetable, construction on the new public works building is progressing quickly and smoothly, said Dave Robley, Douglas County public works director.
“It’s going well,” Robley said. “It’s on schedule and on budget so far.”
Although he has consistently maintained that the public works department doesn’t need a new building and is only moving to help solve the jail situation, Robley nonetheless said the new facility will be a significant improvement over public works’ current accommodations.
The new building is bigger and better designed, Robley said, and the site offers much more surrounding space than the existing public works locale.
“If we were going do it, our feeling was it should be done right,” he said, “so it will last.”
Thanks to excellent planning and teamwork, the project has managed to avoid any major snafus so far, Robley said, and officials expect construction to wrap in mid- to late April, allowing public works staff to fully move in by mid-May.
“It’s still hard to believe that it’s our building,” he said. “It hasn’t sunk in yet that it’s public works, and that we’re actually moving.”