Select Board OKs $500K In ARPA Funds For DPW’s New Salt Shed

Photo: The existing salt shed at the DPW yard, currently closed for safety reasons.

Each year – winter, really – Belmont uses 5,100 tons of salt on town roads to keep the streets safe and manageable when ever it snows.

And you gotta store it somewhere. For the past 35 years, the salt –  basically sodium chloride much like table salt – has been stored in a bee-hive shaped shed located at the Department of Public Works yard. At 36 feet tall and 72 feet in diameter, the octagonal structure was constructed with six-foot steel reinforced concrete retaining walls that supported the wood beam dome.

But storing corrosive material such as salt in a location for decades end up doing bad things. For years, workers witnessed the six-foot steel reinforced concrete wall rusting through and showing signs of failure. In addition, the narrowness of the entry into the shed has resulted in the town’s excavator hitting the walls inside a dark interior as it maneuvered inside the structure to retrieve salt.

In July, workers began hearing what sounded like a “door opening and closing,” said DPW Director Jay Marcotte. Looking inside the shed, employees discovered the wooden dome was lifting off from the concrete wall. The DPW had seen enough, chaining a gate to the shed and closed it down.

A subsequent investigation found the wood frame was collapsing and actually being supported by the salt pile. Removing the salt when the first snows event occurs would likely cause the roof to collapse with possible injuries.

The solution: Replace wood with fabric. BETA Engineering, the town’s consultant, recommends an engineered fabric metal structure manufactured and installed by Clear Span Fabric Structures of South Windsor CT. A specialist in creating salt sheds, the firm recommended a 65 foot wide, 80 foot long and 36 feet high fabric covered structure with block footings and interior lighting.

One main advantage using this structure is it can be moved to accommodate future town plans for the DPW site.

A breakdown of the cost:

  • $50,000 to BETA Group,
  • $375,000 to Clear Span for the material and installation;
  • $50,000 to remove the current shed and move and tarp the existing salt; and
  • $25,000 for prep work.

The funds to build the new shed is allocated from the town’s American Rescue Plan Act account, which leaves a balance of approximately $4 million.

The existing dome and the concrete supporting walls will be removed, the salt covered with a tarp and a new structure built at the same location. Construction will take place in the next 8 to 10 weeks with the onsite installation taking 3 to 4 weeks. The new shed should be ready around mid-December, according to Marcotte.

All Hands on Deck: Belmont DPW Throwing Everything into Blizzard

Jay Marcotte, Belmont’s newly-installed Director of Public Works, said this past Saturday’s snowfall “was a chance for the department to shake the rust off” its response in preparing and handling the inevitable task for any New England town’s DPW in clearing roads of the white stuff.

“It was only four-and-a-half inches in Belmont and we didn’t have a single resident’s call on our snow hotline,” said Marcotte as he introduced himself to the Belmont Board of Selectmen on Monday morning, Jan. 26.

The Belmont Department of Public Work’s Snow Emergency Hotline: 617-993-2698.

But as a potentially historic nor’easter was barreling towards the region and Belmont, Marcotte – who took over the reins of the department from the retiring Peter Castanino – wasn’t expecting his department to have as easy a go of it as three days previous.

“I suspect the hotline will have a few more calls,” he said, with a smile.

To handle the blizzard, Marcotte and Highway Division Manager Michael Santoro will be marshaling all the division’s assets as well as an army of private contractors to keep at least the main thoroughfares passable for first responders and other essential vehicles.

“It’s all hands on deck,” said Marcotte.

The Highway Division has put out 20 pieces of town-owned equipment clearing roads, including dump trucks, pickups and spreaders beginning at 6 p.m. on Monday. In addition, 37 vehicles from private contractors will be hitting the streets during the height of the storm and afterwards, said Marcotte.

In addition, a tree service is on standby to remove branches and trees that could topple during the storm and heavy equipment from James W. Flett Company and FE French Construction are ready “just in case we need them,” said Marcotte.

The DPW’s primary goal will be “to keep the main drags plowed and treated so medical and other emergency services” can get to their destinations, said Marcotte.

Plowing and treating of secondary and side roads are accomplished “as soon as the department can get to them, he said.

The planning, for tackling a storm “, is the same whether it is 2-inches or 24-inches,” said Marcotte.

“We treat [storms] accordingly to what is expected but we make sure we have a plan ready to go,” he said.


Belmont Hires Everett City Services Leader as New DPW Director

Not wasting any time to fill an important town position, the Belmont Board of Selectmen voted Monday night, Dec. 1, to appoint Jason Marcotte, the director of city services in Everett, to replace Peter Castanino as Director of the Belmont Department of Public Works.

“[Marcotte] has a great reputation and enthusiasm” in the public works arena, said David Kale, Belmont’s town administrator who was part of the search committee.

Kale noted that his experience in public works operations and fiscal and project management “has provided him with the opportunity to work effectively with elected and appointed officials, committees and boards at all government levels.”

“I have met [Marcotte] and what an impressive person he is,” said Selectmen’s Chair Andy Rojas.

“[I’m] pleased we attracted such a fine applicant [for the position],” said Rojas.

Marcotte was hired as an employee at will with a base annual salary of $120,000. He begins work on Jan. 5, 2015.

Marcotte, who goes by Jay, has been a young man on the move in the past few years. He was hired in Everett in July 2013 after spending a year and a month as Manager for the Village of Northfield, Vt. which recruited him from his job as assistant director of public works in charge of fleet, facilities and solid waste departments in Bryan, Texas, a neighboring city to College Station, the home of Texas A&M University.

“[Jay’s] innovative approaches and ability to think outside of the box resulted in significant fiscal savings for the Departments under his charge,” Alton Rogers, a fellow Bryan employee, wrote on Marcotte’s Linkin profile.

“If you wanted the words which best describes Jay, they would be integrity, honest, intellegent, innovative, perseverant and fair,” wrote Rogers.

Marcotte – who matriculated at Norwich University where he earned a BS (in biology) and MPA – also has work experience in the budget process and with large regional organizations as a member of the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority’s advisory board. 

He was also the chair for the Solid Waste Technical Committee for the American Public Works Association, a national organization of public works professionals with 30,000 members.

Marcotte should also garner the attention of the members of Sustainable Belmont as he published a paper on the workability of a cap and trade system for solid waste that was featured by the Sustainable City Network. He also presented a paper at the APWA annual conference in August titled “Boras, Sweden – A city free from fossil fuels.”

“His paper on cap and trade in the solid waste arena is cutting edge. The industry and government should stand up and take notice. I hope to see him published in the near future,” wrote fellow MPA recipient Erica Balk.

Marcotte lives with his wife and two children in Nottingham, NH which is close to the University of New Hampshire. He is on the town’s budget committee and ran unsuccessfully in March 2013 for the town’s three member board of selectmen, losing by seven votes out of approximately 700 cast.