The first facility in Burlington’s two-phase public works and recreation building project opened up over the summer. This building houses the town’s DPW central maintenance and recreation maintenance operations. (Photo courtesy Terri Keene/Burlington Department of Public Works)

The town of Burlington recently opened a new complex to house its public works and parks and recreation maintenance operations, the first building in a two-phase project aimed at creating greater efficiency, better environmental practices, and improved employee workspaces.

In late July, Burlington officially opened phase one of its $32 million project, a 28,500-square-foot facility shared by public works and parks and recreation employees. The project’s second phase, now underway and expected to be completed by late 2022, involves building a second facility on the same road, for the highway and water and sewer departments.

According to the town, the project reflects years of planning, careful logistics work to ensure continuity of services, and a collaborative culture.

“I think it speaks to the willingness of the different departments to team up and not be so much in a silo,” said Brendan Egan, the town’s parks and recreation director.

An in-depth assessment of facility needs brought the two departments together. Both had aging, cramped facilities that lacked proper lighting and climate control. Wildlife had taken up residence inside the parks and recreation facility, Egan said.

The town decided on a two-site, two-phase approach, with the first building going on property the town bought from a moving company. The second facility is replacing the building previously used by the Public Works Department. The town saved money by bidding both phases as one project, and broke ground on phase one in December 2019.

Though his department had been eyeing a new facility since at least 2007, Public Works Director John Sanchez said he didn’t mind sharing space.

“When we in DPW started to push for the project, from day one, we always thought we should be looking at what the town needs, and not what the DPW needs, as we are one town,” Sanchez said.

In the new facility, four DPW workers repair and maintain the town’s vehicle fleet, while nine parks and recreation employees repair and maintain equipment including lawn mowers and weed wackers, as well as signs, picnic tables and park benches.

The new facility has 10,000 square feet for vehicle storage, storage space for parts and equipment, administrative areas, a vehicle wash bay, and five vehicle repair bays. It also has vehicle lifts, including one for vehicles up to 77,000 pounds, including fire engines. (The Fire Department has its own mechanic.) Parks and recreation also has a garage for its small-engine work, a lift to repair large-area mowers and other equipment, and a carpentry shop.

“We couldn’t be more happy with the building,” said Assistant Town Administrator John Danizio. “It is going to be a great asset for generations.”

The facility will make vehicle maintenance and repair safer and more efficient, officials said. In the old, 8,400-square-foot facility, employees had only two vehicle bays, and would have to move unrepaired vehicles to accommodate more urgent jobs, meaning some vehicles had to be worked on outdoors. Employees would have to climb underneath vehicles, working in the dark and on the ground.

Burlington also now has indoor storage for all vehicles and equipment, which will extend their life and ultimately save money, Sanchez said.

In addition, the project includes energy efficiency and environmental upgrades. The building has radiant floor-heating systems, and translucent panels maximize use of natural light and reduce artificial lighting. Water from the wash bay gets treated before going into a sanitary sewer. And there are mechanisms to secure fuel and hazardous materials, exhaust systems to control fumes, and a dust collection system for sanding equipment.

Town officials said the project will improve water treatment and runoff control, reduce paved areas and expand green space, and better protect wetlands.

Written by