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West Jordan Journal

Public works building to bring safety, efficiency to West Jordan

Mar 29, 2017 10:09AM ● By Tori La Rue

Public Work Director Wendell Rigby speaks at the groundbreaking ceremony for West Jordan’s new public works facility on Feb. 16. (West Jordan City)

By Tori La Rue | [email protected]

The groundbreaking for a new $26.5 million public works building on Feb. 16 was a “manifestation of hope” for Justin Rayl and other public works employees, Rayl said.

“When I was hired on in ‘99, we had already outgrown the building at that point,” he said. “We talked about the need for a new design for almost a decade, and it’s like this is the hope saying we can move forward.”

Until construction is finished on the new public works facility at 7960 S. 4000 West in approximately 14 months, Rayl and dozens of other public works employees will continue to provide utilities to more than 28,000 homes and businesses, clean 160 miles of storm drain line, maintain 328 miles of sewer line and sweep 860 lane miles of roadway using the old building as their primary hub. That hub was built in 1986 when the city had a population of around 35,500, about one-third of today’s 110,000.

“We don’t spend that much time in the building, but my equipment needs a place to reside that is properly adequate for its needs, and we don’t have that,” said Rayl, the wastewater operations supervisor. “I can’t meet the needs of a growing city now, but this new facility and will really make that possible.”

Rayl and nearly 50 other public works employees celebrated the new building by taking part in the groundbreaking ceremony. Only 19 participants lifted the dirt with shovels in the ceremony, but other employees, all smiles—even in the below-freezing temperatures—gathered behind them to pose for city photographs.

Public Works director Wendell Rigby said residents might not understand the need for the new building because they don’t see how public operates from day to day, but he assured those present at the groundbreaking ceremony that the new facility was long overdue and would enable the employees to be more efficient in their work that affects all West Jordan residents.

Public works is responsible for storing and maintaining 450 vehicles, including street sweepers, vacuum trucks, plow trucks, police vehicles, fire trucks and other automobiles.

“I am amazed at how the staff is able to park (the vehicles) in the building,” Rigby said. “They back them around and pull them in between all these supports. I am surprised we don’t have more damage to the vehicles.”

Within the past two years, city officials have spent more than $3.65 million to purchase city vehicles and an additional $713,00 on police vehicle rentals. The new public works building will provide more room and practical parking space to accommodate the new fleet. This will allow public works employees to respond to snowstorms, waterline breaks or other pressing matters more quickly, Mayor Kim Rolfe said.

The new facility is being built on the site of the old facility, and the 10 acres of city-owned land that’s adjacent and to the north, bringing the full site of the facility up to 17 acres. The old building will remain operational while the new building is under construction.

The city council selected this site because it was the cheapest real estate option.

The 10 acres to the north used to contain two soccer fields as part of the West Jordan Youth Soccer Complex. The parks department is opening two fields that were intended to be closed for maintenance to allow the same amount of soccer to be played within the city. City leaders eventually plan to create more soccer fields at Ron Wood Park.

In addition to having inadequate space, the old building presents daily safety and sanitation hazards. In his remarks at the groundbreaking ceremony, Rigby mentioned the current facility’s unstable equipment, roof leaks, little space for salt storage, poor ventilation and nesting area for birds.

“Although we have tried to keep the pigeon population down, they seem to always find a place to live, and so they drop their eggs and feathers and other things on the floors and on some of the employees,” he said. “The current building is well-used, but it is time to build a new building.”

The building has two components: the $15 million main building, and $11.5 million accessory structures, including salt storage and a dump station, and is designed to last 50 years.
Hogan Construction and JRCA Architects are working with the city to complete the project.