Public Works renovations complete; return within weeks

By Chris Berendt

June 27, 2014

Crews are putting the finishing touches on a sizable expansion endeavor at the City of Clinton Public Works and Utilities Department headquarters, where employees are expected to return to new digs within the next month.

“We’re hoping for the middle or end of July,” Stacey Ray, senior administrative specialist for the City of Clinton Public Works and Utilities Department, said Thursday. “They’re pretty much done in there. We just need to do a final walk-through.”

Some paint was being touched up Thursday and furniture, including new cabinets, still needs to be put in place, but the construction is finished. Signage will be placed on the front of the building and Ray said staff will likely be moving in next month, with everyone in place and business as usual in the new, expanded office by the end of July, possibly in August.

Public Works officials have been operating from temporary offices on Ferrell Street, a stone’s throw from the Public Works headquarters, since the beginning of the year.

Clinton Public Works and Utilities director Jeff Vreugdenhil cited a six-month timeline at that point and since that time, sweeping renovations have taken place to change the face of the headquarters on John Street, expanding the structure and extending the facility’s lifespan for another several decades.

That work is right on track with its late-June target completion date.

Aside from final touch-ups and a walk-through, the furniture just needs to be moved in along with staff, officials said this week.

The renovation and expansion project began in earnest in early January as part of a half-million dollar project. The facility on John Street is over 40 years old and was said to be in need of maintenance, repairs and updating, including the roof — the project, approved late last year, will extend the facility’s life by another 30 or 40 years.

In November, the City Council approved a proposal of $561,500 from Jackson Builders of Goldsboro to do the work. Considered for the last several years, $500,000 was budgeted in the 2013-14 budget for those upgrades. With a small percentage of contingency funds added to the base amount, the cost hovered around $580,000.

Specifically, the Public Works facility renovations have expanded the break room and restroom facilities and re-designed the space in existing offices to accommodate three offices and a receiving area. The project is expected to accommodate the office and break room needs for the next several decades, as current employee numbers are within 10 percent of what they were in 1990, city officials have said.

The last addition to the Public Works complex was more than 40 years ago, in 1972.

Vreugdenhil has called the expansion a “significant addition,” with a complete roof overhaul done for the entire facility, excluding the garage portion, in conjunction with the expansion.

“It’s 4,500 feet of either addition or renovation,” city manager Shawn Purvis has said. “We’re talking 30 years of extension on the life of this building.”

Some furniture is being installed outside the contract with Jackson Builders.

“The cabinets are being made and still need to be brought in,” Ray said Thursday.

The renovations have expanded the area parallel to Vreugdenhil’s office near the entrance of the building, which was previously in a breezeway, where visitors have to step outside to go into the other part of the building that includes the cafeteria and a small reception area. The receptionist area has been expanded, allowing for a new visitor’s lounge and a bigger lunchroom.

The project has meant more closets and storage space for the department, along with bigger offices for some who were in tight quarters previously, while the expanded reception area will allow for a better flow of visitors, who will also have access to public restrooms, Ray noted.

“Before we didn’t have public restrooms,” she said.

Expanding the break room and restroom facilities is also expected to better accommodate employees and present a more sanitary environment, where there is enough room to wash up in the restroom rather than utilizing common areas.

Ray pointed out that the larger lunchroom was a huge benefit, and probably one of the most significant pieces of the overall project. Before, cramped space — with hanging uniforms only making matters worse — allowed for only a couple dozen people in the room. Now, uniforms can be placed in a separate area easily accessed from the outside by Cintas and the expanded room can fit 80 people, a boon for the department and its employees as the space will be able to accommodate department-wide gatherings.

“We can have group meetings or luncheons,” Ray noted.

Chris Berendt can be reached at 910-592-8137 ext. 121. Follow us on twitter @SampsonInd.