New Public Works garage opens, prepares for winter

By Denise Coffey - Staff Writer
Woodstock - posted Mon., Nov. 21, 2011
Woodstock's new 15,000-square-foot salt shed. Photos by D. Coffey.
Woodstock's new 15,000-square-foot salt shed. Photos by D. Coffey.

Woodstock threw open the doors to its new Public Works garage on Nov. 19. After seven years of planning, design and construction, the $2.9 million building boasts 15 bays, a new salt shed, and a new fuel depot with a monitoring system, capable of servicing the entire fleet of town vehicles, plows, school buses, fire trucks and ambulances.

According to David Hosmer, a member of the Woodstock Finance Committee and the Highway Study Group, the catalyst for the new facility was the old salt shed. For years, salt and sand were mixed outside and the salt leached into the ground, contaminating the wells of a neighboring farm. The town was mandated by the state to build a new salt shed.

The project was driven by the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection, according to Public Works Director John Navarro. The salt shed was the first structure built. It has paved floors and is spacious enough for about a year's supply of salt and sand storage. Plows can drive through one door, get loaded up, and drive out another door.

The facility sits on a landfill site that was capped. The garage grew from four bays to 15. The present structure boasts radiant floor heating powered by two propane-fired boilers. A 9-kilowatt solar array behind the fuel depot will offset the electrical costs, said Navarro. Induction lighting and an outdoor wood-fired boiler with 40 cords of wood already on site will help Woodstock operate leaner, he said.

On top of that, the facility has a 50,000-watt generator so that it can serve as an emergency facility in the event of a disaster.

Delpha Very was Woodstock's first selectman in 2003. “We knew we had to address the environmental concerns,” she said. In order to prevent future salt contamination, the back lot was paved, and a storm water plan was drawn up. A fore bay and retention pond were designed and built to keep potential pollutants from the groundwater. The fore bay has a concrete bottom that enables crews to remove sediment after it settles. The retention pond releases the water back slowly into the environment.

Ten monitor wells have been dug on the site, and testing will be conducted regularly to make sure the town stays in compliance with DEEP regulations. “It's all about compliance,” Very said.

The facility also has a 3,000-gallon storage tank for non-hazardous wastewater. Runoff from washing town vehicles will gather in the tank. During spring, summer and fall, the town plans to reuse the wastewater in the wash bays of the garage, according to Navarro. “It was a well-thought-out plan,” he said.

Two Small Town Economic Assistance Program grants helped Woodstock with the construction. The grants totaled $500,000. State Rep. Mike Alberts (R-Woodstock) and state Sen. Tony Guglielmo (R- Stafford Springs) helped spirit the grant through, according to Very.  Alberts called it a state-of-the-art facility that should serve the town for many decades to come.


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