The Ocean View Public Works Department is working diligently to move into its new home by the beginning of November. Until now, the department has been working out of a number of separate buildings, but will now have one home.
“All the equipment will be consolidated now and kept in one place,” explained Charles McMullen, public works director for the Town. “And it gives them a sense of pride in their work, because they have a place they can call home,” he said of his workers.
The single-story building is 40 by 128 feet and has two 12-foot drive-through bays, as well as a single 10-foot bay. There is a separate heated area that includes office space, a lunchroom, a shower/locker room, a heated shop and two restrooms.
“I think it’s a good thing. They finally have a home. When I first came, they were nomads,” said McMullen. “There was a time when they only had their truck to work out of. There was a time when they worked out of a garage that had no heat in it. There was a time when they shared a room in a building with other people.
“Now they have a place here where they can consolidate all their equipment. They don’t have to go from one garage to another garage to find things. I think it’s going to be a time-saver for the Town.”
Along with organizing the inside of the building, McMullen said the department hopes to put bins outside for materials used on regular basis, such as topsoil and mulch.
The building is located behind the Town’s Wallace A. Melson Municipal Building, near the location where the police department formerly housed its trailers. The land was leased to the Town by the Freeman Companies for $1 per year, for 40 years, in 2011.
“It was gracious gift to the Town, allowing us to lease this piece of ground for our new public works building,” said McMullen. “We thank former Mayor [Gordon] Wood, who was able to speak to Mrs. Freeman to get the lease.”
McMullen said the department has been working for a few weeks to fully move into the building, including moving in its snowplows, mosquito-spraying machines and deck mowers.
“We’ll be installing racks on the walls, similar to those at Lowe’s or Home Depot, and get things up off the floor for more room,’ he added.
Along with McMullen, the Public Works Department is made up of Jerrad Steele and Stuart Townsend.
“They ride around every day. They’re out to make sure things are OK. They’re seeing if there’s trash in the streets, if a sign is down, something like that — they’re aware of it and take action to correct it,” said McMullen. “When they go out, people know them, recognize them, feel comfortable talking to them. They can bring something to their attention that we might not be aware of. That benefits the town in general.”
“Every day, it’s something new, something different,” said Townsend, who worked in corrections for more than a decade before joining to the Town earlier this year. “Coming here is like a vacation every day.”
Both Steele and Townsend said they were anxious to move into the new building as soon as possible.
“This is definitely a lot better than what we have now,” said Steele, who has worked for the Town for 19 years.
McMullen said that, along with the new building, the department’s electronic capabilities have been updated, with a computer in the new building and smartphones.
“I’m going to be able to communicate with them electronically. I’ll be able to send them tasks via computer or smartphone,” he said. “They’ll take a more active role in things.”
“It’s nice with the town growing; we’re getting more equipment and modernizing things,” added Steele.
With the department moving into its new facility, their former 6 Oakwood Avenue location will eventually be demolished.
“Currently, we’re anticipating razing the building, keeping a small accessory structure over there for some equipment that’s used in the park and using it as additional parking for our park,” McMullen said.
McMullen said John West Park is a gem, and the department and Town have been working hard to continuously improve it.
“It’s a place that a lot of people come to. There are events that the Town holds there. It’s gotten bigger, drawn more people. It’s good. People get to come out and meet their neighbors,” he said. “We want to maintain that and give people the ability to park there comfortably.”
As for their new home, both Steele and Townsend thanked the Town and McMullen for their hard work in making the building come to fruition.
“We’re just happy to have this building. Thank you to Charlie for that,” said Steele.