Will New Public Works Building Feature Recycling Center?

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MTT News Desk's picture
By: 
Francesca Mastrangelo

The Middleton Common Council two weeks ago discussed the impending move of the Municipal Operations Center.

As Meriter Health Services is now prepared to move forward with constructing a sprawling new medical campus east of the Beltline at Century Avenue and Laura Lane, the city’s Public Works Department activities at their current garage must end in March of 2015.

Meriter’s development necessitates that Public Works moves into a new Municipal Operations Center on land currently owned by the State Department of Transportation (DOT) at the north end of Parmenter Street.

At last week’s meeting, city administrator Mike Davis urged the common council to reach a consensus regarding the cost of the proposed Municipal Operations Center (MOC) and related key issues.

Some budgetary concerns for the center include whether all vehicles will be housed indoors, whether or not high-efficiency heating and cooling systems should be used, and if the project will include a recycling center.

Since the Meriter project was first proposed to the Council in 2011, various changes related to construction cost, inflation and anticipated site preparation costs have raised the development costs for the new Public Works headquarters to approximately $10 million.

With the MOC recycling center’s potential elimination looming due to these expected cost increases, citizens attended the meeting in order to voice their support for the project’s environmentally-conscious component. When the council opened the floor for public comments, residents offered their perspectives on the project’s proposed cost-reduction measures.

“The city needs to rethink our priorities and how you look at these types of projects. You can’t move forward from a sustainability perspective if those are the first projects to go,” stated Deb Saeger.

Lawrence Landwehr echoed Saeger’s support for the recycling center, adding, “Middleton wants to know the facts and make the right decisions. You want to make a decision that doesn’t run waste.”

Following the public comment session, the council deliberated how these crucial issues would fit into the overall scope of the project. The majority of the council felt that the indicated overages, in addition to indoor parking, HVAC installation, and the recycling center, were necessary in order to maintain the project’s integrity.

Ald. Howard Teal (Dist. 5) stated, “It’s now a year or two beyond the design phase and we are going to need more money just to do it. We should bite the bullet and move ahead with the original design.”

Ald. Hans Hilbert (Dist. 7) shared Teal’s commitment to retaining the original design. “This design has been vetted by us a number of times,” said Hilbert. “We are now getting numbers that meet the expectations we set forth. With that said, I would motion to direct staff to borrow money that will accommodate the cold storage, HVAC, and recycling center as well.”

While ald. Gurdip Brar (Dist. 2) urged his fellow council members to continue exploring more potential cost-cutting measures, the rest of the council opted to move forward with approving the anticipated overages and seeking loans to accommodate these expenses.

Following discussion, a motion to prepare borrowing for the MOC that meets the current design including indoor vehicle storage, high-efficiency HVAC system and the recycling center passed 6-1, with Brar opposed.

 

Other decisions made by the Common Council include:

- The Council approved a labor agreement for the Local 311 Fire Fighters which will shorten paramedics’ average work week from 56 hours to 48 hours over the next four years.

 

-  The Council approved an ordinance regarding unpaid medical leave of absence for city employees. Middleton’s Code of Ordinances now maintains that “when a permanent employee is taking an approved, unpaid medical leave of absence beyond approved FMLA leave, the City will continue to provide, and pay the City portion of the employee’s health insurance for up to 3 months. The City may request the employee to have a medical evaluation performed by a doctor chosen by the City.”

 

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