AMESBURY — The city could save as much as $2 million by pursuing an alternate site for a new Department of Public Works garage on South Hunt Road.
Mayor Thatcher Kezer confirmed the city is abandoning its original plan to relocate the DPW garage to undeveloped land off South Hunt Road and is instead pursuing another location a quarter-mile down the street.
By pivoting the city's efforts to an existing structure at 39 South Hunt Road instead of constructing an entirely new facility at 56 South Hunt Road, the city could chop up to $2 million from the project, Kezer said.
The city wants to move the public works garage out of its current location in the Lower Millyard in order to redevelop that site in the center of the city.
Building a new garage at 56 South Hunt Road would have required a bonding authorization of $8 million. That price tag included site work on the vacant land, construction costs and contingency money.
By shifting efforts to a 6-acre lot at 39 South Hunt Road, home of Radar Technology Inc., the project cost would drop to a little less than $6 million. That price includes the estimated $1.2 million to purchase the property, retrofitting the existing 16,000-square-foot building into office and storage space and constructing a 12,000-square-foot garage/maintenance building.
The 39 South Hunt Road property is owned by James Noonan Realty Trust out of Merrimac, which bought the property in 2003 from Bartley Machine and Manufacturing Co.
Kezer said the $6 million price tag also includes the cost of relocating the city's snow dump and compost site to the vacant 56 South Hunt Road site.
"It meets all our operational needs, it shaves $2 million from the price tag and actually provides solutions to a few other problems," Kezer said of the new plan.
Kezer said one of the solutions the 39 South Hunt Road site would offer is plenty of space to store the city's archives and documents. Currently, sensitive paperwork is scattered in several sites throughout the city.
DPW Director Rob Desmarais said the new site on South Hunt Road has several advantages over the old site, including an existing building and better soil conditions.
"It's a beautiful site," Desmarais said.
Kezer intended to file the new proposal in time to be considered for tomorrow night's Municipal Council meeting as a late file as well as formally withdraw the old proposal.
If all goes well, the council could approve the new proposal by May. Construction could begin soon after and a new DPW facility could be fully operational by late 2013, a full year earlier than the original plan.
The idea for pursuing the 39 South Hunt Road site came from City Councilor Bob Lavoie, who noticed the land was for sale and contacted Kezer. The two sat down a couple weeks ago at Kezer's house to discuss the proposal. Kezer said he asked Desmarais to look into whether the proposal was feasible.
"Anytime we can meet our operational needs, but lower the price tag by $2 million, we will pursue it. We are pleased to find a solution that meets both," Kezer said.