The Laramie City Council toured Laramie’s fleet maintenance facilities Tuesday to acquaint councilors with the Laramie Public Works Division’s need for better working conditions, Mayor Andi Summerville said.
As part of the council’s work session, councilors visited various facilities used for housing and maintaining a significant portion of the city’s fleet.
At each stop along the city’s four block stretch of vehicle maintenance and storage facilities on Fourth Street, city staff pointed out myriad problems regarding storage, vehicle maintenance and employee amenities, such as bathrooms and Americans with Disabilities Act approved access.
“Ventilation is a real issue,” Laramie City Manager Janine Jordan said, standing in the Laramie Streets Division fleet maintenance building. “It’s bi-vehicle ventilation, and it’s really not optimal.”
Councilors walked through maintenance bays crammed so tightly with vehicles they had to squeeze through the gaps between bumpers during the tour.
In the Laramie Parks and Recreation Department Parks shop, Parks Manager Scott Hunter explained the small garage houses up to 30 employees during the summer.
“Myself and four others share an office,” he said, standing in a room about the size of a backyard shed.
Public Works Director Earl Smith said several of the city’s fleet vehicles are stored outdoors, which increases wear and causes engine problems during the winter.
“Storing vehicles outside in the cold sometimes makes it impossible to start them,” Laramie Solid Waste Manager Brooks Webb said. “There’s not enough room in the solid waste garage for all our vehicles, so three are stored outdoors at all times.”
On the opposite side of the solid waste building, Laramie Utility Division Manager Cal Van Zee showed councilors an outdoor pipe rack used to store PVC water and sewer line.
“The one thing that deteriorates PVC is (ultraviolet) radiation — sunlight,” Van Zee said.
Councilors and city staff crossed Fourth Street and stopped in at a newer facility used to house the city’s paint shop and mosquito control department.
“Anytime we park equipment, it has to be parked inside or water and chemicals stored on the vehicles could freeze,” Laramie Mosquito Crew Supervisor Keith Wardlaw said as councilors filled the gaps between five trucks parked in space that appeared to be suited for about three full-size pickups. “We can actually get six in here if we do a bit of rearranging.”
After visiting Laramie’s current city fleet facilities, councilors headed out to WyoTech’s former north campus, the proposed location of Laramie’s new mobile service center.
As councilors and city staff members visited several buildings, Smith explained some of the benefits of consolidating several city departments in a single compound.
“One of the biggest things for me is I have staff scattered all over the place,” he said. “We communicate over the phone and email, but nothing replaces that face-to-face interaction. Consolidation will improve team unity and customer service.”
Jordan pointed out ADA-accessible bathrooms and entryways on the campus as well as the space to build locker rooms for both men and women, which some current facilities lack.
“The efficiencies of combining the departments on one campus include fuel savings and reduced wear and tear on the vehicles,” she said.
The project is slated to cost about $9.8 million and the city could close on purchasing the north campus property by the end of the year, Smith said.
Although acquiring the north campus would require extensive remodeling and retrofitting of the existing buildings, Jordan said it would still be cheaper and faster than starting from scratch and building a new facility.
“Ideally, we could begin construction in January and be in (the new facility) half-way through 2018,” Smith said.