Tuesday July 9, 2013

Barry Mayer

This is the third in a series of commentaries regarding the efforts of the Shaftsbury Garage Committee to keep the townspeople informed of their deliberations and progress.

The committee recently met with a representative of a steel building construction company to review the pros and cons of steel construction, particularly insulation, roofing, and durability.

Detailed analysis has been conducted on alternatives for salt shed construction. We reviewed the benefits of a design (being used widely for salt sheds) consisting of a type of durable poly plastic roof over steel bows. Options and costs have been discussed. Switching to this type of building could reduce the total cost of the salt shed by 30 percent.

As a result of changes in building codes since initial planning last year, sprinkler requirements and other building codes need to be addressed in any design considerations. The committee is now proposing that the main garage building will be closer to 8,000 square feet, (a reduction from the initial 8,700-square-foot plan) and might require a sprinkler system if made of wood. It is possible that fire walls can help to eliminate the need for sprinklers. On the other hand, steel buildings can be up to 12,000 square feet before sprinklers are mandated. Requirements will be determined prior to any final design plan.

The committee met with MSK engineer Jim Secor, who had prepared the preliminary plan as initially configured by the town. He explained the pros and cons of wood vs. metal construction; there are advantages to each type of construction. Although metal requires little painting maintenance and the initial costs may be less, the durability and life span is not as long as wood. A metal building requires a metal roof (as opposed to shingles). All the advice received recommends standing seam over screw down, as the latter fails over a much shorter period of time. Standing seam is much more expensive than screw down, however. In the interest of reducing costs, the committee is now considering a straight rectangular building and roof line. The foreman’s office, water department office and break room could be done as an extension of just a single story at the end of the main garage.

The committee decided what is needed is a basic cost for a bare-bones building that would meet current code requirements and fulfill the needs of the town’s public works. It was pointed out, however, that it is not in the town’s interest to put up a building that will last only 25 to 30 years. As they had done the initial groundwork, it was agreed that the selectboard would be asked to consider working with MSK Engineering to estimate a revised cost based on these restricted criteria from the Garage Committee. Once that information is available the committee will consider additional aspects of the building that would be desirable and affordable.

Most agreed that the original proposal may not have been explained clearly, resulting in a perception that the amount of the bond request was for a "Taj Mahal" garage, not the whole project including the site preparation, the garage, pole shed and salt shed. The committee wants to make clear that they and the selectboard are setting criteria for the design engineers.

The selectboard recently voted to work with a local logger to take down trees on the proposed garage site so that the public and potential bidders could have a better sense of the project. A limited contract was also approved for MSK to develop a bare bones estimate for the cost of the main garage. The total cost of both of these projects was under $4,000.

Alternative funding options have been discussed and will be reconsidered when a better idea of the total amount becomes known. Interest rates are increasing and the sooner a plan can be finalized and approved the less costly any ultimate project will be. A November bond vote is the committee’s goal.

Barry Mayer is a member of the Shaftsbury Garage Committee and handles its public communications.