Photo: The ribbon cutting at the DPW renovation and addition with Highway Division Director Mike Santoro doing the honors
After decades of “inhuman working conditions,” the day finally came that employees at the Department of Public Work have a place worthy of their hard work as the town officially opened the newly renovated building and addition which has been in operation for a couple of months.
“I really want to thank my building committee, they were just awesome,” said Ann Marie Mahoney, chair of the Belmont Police Department/Department of Public Works Building Committee which oversaw the renovation work at both the DPW and police headquarters since Town Meet approved the appropriation back in 2016.
But before residents feel content with the $1.6 million spent on the current project, it remains only a temporary fix as a new DPW facility – with a price tag in the range of $25-$30 million – is less than a decade a way as a complete renovation of the entire plant is just not cost effective.
“Wonderful as this is, I do want to remind people that the clock is ticking,” said Mahoney. “When we started, we said 10 years for a permeant building … so put that on your calendars.”
Mahoney also called out architect Ted Galante of THE GALANTE ARCHITECTURE STUDIO in Cambridge as the “creative genius” behind this relatively inexpensive project as well as the recently wrapped up renovation of the Belmont Police Department headquarters.
“I think the biggest challenge for this project was how do you invest in a building wisely but do it in a cost effective way, to provide the DPW with their needs so that it can be a much better place while knowing it will be replaced in a relatively short time,” said Galante.
After the ribbon was cut by Highway Division Director and 40-year DPW veteran Mike Santoro, the committee took a tour of the building which featured segregated facilities for male and female workers to shower, change, and take a break, a conference room while new bays for repairs and maintenance of the department’s vehicles have been installed.
The chief improvements for those who work out of the building “is it brings a sense of dignity to the place,” said Mahoney.
“When I started here all we had was a small area with lockers but no showers and the bathroom facilities were inadequate. We would take a curtain meant to clean the trucks and use it for privacy,” said John Sheridan, a 12-year veteran of the department. “Now we have that privacy; nice locker rooms, a nice kitchen. As you can see, it’s a world of difference.”