VALPARAISO | The City Council took the first step Monday toward financing an estimated $5.2 million public works campus on the grounds of the sewage treatment plant.
Valparaiso Public Works Director Matt Evans described for the City Council the condition of the facilities at Axe Avenue and Don Hovey Drive and how the city administration arrived at the decision to build at the proposed site.
The city bought the existing site in 1940, and it is long overdue for replacement, he said.
"We've done our best with what we were given," he said. "It's inefficient. The stormwater is not under control. It's a stark, cold, harsh environment, and it is not a pleasant place to do business."
Mayor Jon Costas said the project is the last major task of his first strategic plan. The city looked at expanding on the existing site, which would have been expensive and still left the department landlocked for the future.
Other sites considered were the former Task Force Tips building at Silhavy Road and Evans Avenue and the former North Coast Distributing facility on Silhavy. The first would have cost more than expanding the existing site, and the second would have been a great place to combine several departments.
Instead of developing those, the city was happy when Paul Wurth bought the TFT building and brought jobs to the city, and Evans said it is hoped the same thing will happen to the North Coast site. By building at the sewage treatment site, the city doesn't have to buy any land, it has enough for future growth, and it can combine vehicle maintenance, office and other efficiencies to improve service.
The bond issue, expected to be approved and the funds to be available by midsummer, won't cost taxpayers any additional money. The $391,000 annual cost for the 17-year bond would replace a parks department bond issue that will be paid off this year. The new public works campus could be ready by next summer.
The City Council voted to hold a public hearing on a preliminary motion to proceed with the financing at its April 8 meeting. Evans said, if it decides not to approve the project, the property tax savings for the owner of a $100,000 home would be about $8.42 a year while the owner of a $135,000 house would not save anything because of the tax caps.
"This is not just for the public works employees," Evans said. "It's for the residents and their children and grandchildren."