BELFAST – As the local economy in Belfast has gone up and down, their public works department facility has been put on the back burner. Now city officials say their department is getting an upgrade.
A new garage is replacing a rundown building that’s more than 50 years old. Belfast City Councilor Mary Mortier said the change is long over due.
“I used to work in the garment industry and I used to travel around the world to a lot of third world countries…the public works department was worse than factories I had been in in third world countries,” said Mortier.
The old facility on Congress Street had a leaky roof, structural issues, a pigeon problem, and the area was so tight for vehicles that people couldn’t walk in between them.
“Before the guys would have to wash their vehicles outside in the cold weather and as they were washing it would freeze right back on,” said Bob Richards, the director of public works.
“The result is vehicles rusting out sooner than they really should,” said Mortier.
The price tag for the new property on Crocker Road is $7.7 million, but officials said the building is made to last.
“I think the morale will be a lot better, the equipment is going to be serviced a lot better and everybody is going to want to come in,” said Richards.
The new public works department also includes the city’s third solar array. According to Mortier, the arrays will cover about 90 percent of electricity for municipal buildings.
And instead of eating lunch on dusty chairs and overturned oil drums, public works employees have a brand new break room.
“To see the pride that they are exhibiting this past week as they have been moving slowly in to this facility and the smiles – you didn’t see that before,” said Mortier.
The department has already started moving in, but they’ll officially open the new facility with a ribbon cutting on Tuesday.