The Town of Windham held a press conference on Tuesday, September 12 to discuss the increasingly dire need to construct a new 30,000 square foot, shared vehicle maintenance facility. This facility will meet the needs of the town’s public works and RSU 14 transportation departments. Endorsed by the RSU 14 school board and the Windham Town Council, the Town of Windham is proposing to fund this new facility through a $9.3 million bond referendum on the November 7, 2017 ballot.
At the conference, Windham Public Works Director, Douglas Fortier, led attendees through a tour of the current operation; illustrating first-hand how the 10,000 square foot facility offers inadequate space leading to a variety of issues such as: premature and costly equipment repairs, delayed storm response times, negative environmental impacts, and conflicts between public works, school, vendor and public traffic – to name a few.
“Our public works employees and school system are struggling to efficiently operate within the constraints of an old, hazardous facility,” stated Dave Nadeau, Windham Town Councilor, and member of the Shared Vehicle Maintenance Facility Joint Project Team. “We have a unique opportunity right now to come together and fix it. Our number one goal is to keep our communities safe and an updated, shared vehicle maintenance facility will help us effectively achieve that.”
The current facility was built in 1980 and the transportation needs of the community have significantly grown. “When I began working here 31 years ago, there were only four dump trucks, one pickup truck and three police cruisers,” reported Dave Poree, Public Works Fleet Supervisor.
“Today, there are now 65 ‘rolling equipment’ vehicles. As a result, the three bays that are available now are not enough to do our jobs efficiently and safely. In the winter, we often have to work outside in the snow when a plow breaks down because we cannot get it into the bay due to the lack of space and inability to drive the plow inside.”
Poree also was available to give a tour to reporters, pointing out his concerns, one of which is the lack of vehicle lifts. “Because there are no lifts to put the vehicles on, maintenance staff is unable to look at the underside of a vehicle at eye level,” stated Poree. “As a result, not only does it make repairs cumbersome and difficult, but we do not have the ability to see and prevent potential problems.”
Another concern expressed is the lack of a wash bay to properly clean the equipment. “Wash bays will drastically reduce corrosion caused by salt and sand,” explained Kevin Kimball, Public Works Assistant Director. “This will provide a longer life for all the vehicles and prevent fewer breakdowns due to rust. This will save taxpayers money in the long run.”
According to the Town of Windham, the new shared vehicle maintenance facility would benefit residents by improving road conditions and response times in winter storms; increasing safety on the site by separating public works, school, and public traffic; improving energy efficiency; shrinking its environmental footprint; and reducing expensive and frequent vehicle repair and replacement costs.
“Investing in a new, shared vehicle maintenance space for our school buses will not only save taxpayers’ money in the long run, but it will also help increase safety for our employees right away. It truly is a win-win,” said Scott McLean, RSU 14 School Board Member, and member of the Shared Vehicle Maintenance Facility Joint Project Team.
The Town of Windham will host an Open House, inviting the public to view the current facility on Saturdays, September 23 and October 28 from 9 a.m. to noon. There will also be an Open House on Saturday, October 7 from 10 a.m. to noon designed to coincide with the high school’s homecoming activities which will include a “Touch-a-Truck” event. “The open houses will provide an opportunity for the community to ask questions, see the facility and make an informed decision in November,” Plante stated.
It’s estimated that the new shared facility will save as much as $8 million over the facility’s expected 50-year lifecycle in reduced expenses and increased efficiencies. At least $3 million will be saved over the 20 years of financing, with a cost of approximately $6 per month to the average homeowner – a price that’s expected to increase if the referendum continues to be delayed.
For more information about the proposed referendum, please visit www.windhammaine.us, or call (207) 892-1907, ext. 1121.