VALPARAISO | Plans for the city's new public works campus are expected to be ready to submit for bids in about a week, and Public Works Director Matt Evans hopes the cost leaves room to include a rain harvesting system.
Evans said the 80,000 square feet of buildings will have almost two acres of roof for collecting rain and directing it to an underground cistern. The water then could be used for mixing the brine the department uses in winter for melting snow, watering the more than 200 trees the department cares for and other uses.
"It will cost about $80,000, but it is something that will give back for decades," he said. "It would be good for the environment if we could do that."
He said the plans for the campus at the city's sewage treatment plant property are about 95 percent complete, and he has been gathering ideas from other projects and from past plans for the public works campus to get ideas to make the city project even better.
He's looked at the exteriors of other buildings and checked out conference rooms and other features of places such as the city's Police Department and the new Valparaiso University Welcome Center.
"It's a lot to pull together, but overall it's moved smoothly," he said. "I'm hopeful as we go through the numbers that we will be within budget. My main concern is: Can we prepare the site and get the footings poured before winter sets in?"
The goal is to start construction by mid-November. If the weather holds off long enough to do the ground preparation and footings, the work can continue through winter and be ready for occupancy about a year from now.
The city is issuing bonds to finance the project. Officials expect to pay off the bonds without increasing taxes because a parks department bond issue was paid off this year and the money that had been used for that will now go toward the public works project.
The city's Utilities Department will occupy a portion of the building and will pay $139,000 a year in rent that also will go toward the bonds.
The city had expected to close on the sale of the bonds next week, but Evans said that has now been moved back a couple of weeks, which is a good thing.
"A little delay is beneficial because we would have been paying interest without the plans being done," Evans said. "Eighty thousand square feet is a big deal for us, but there's no reason to believe our time lines won't be met."