Director of Public Works Kirk Severance presented the annual Public Works Department report to the Board of Selectmen on Feb. 5. He detailed the services undertaken by each of the department’s divisions.
The department consists of 16 full-time employees, three part-time, three seasonal, and three who work the transfer station on Saturdays. Of these, one full-time and three part-time workers maintain the town’s 83,000 square feet of buildings: the Municipal Complex (except for Board of Education building), Holcomb Farm, Salmon Brook Park building, Cossitt Library, Public Works building and the various pavilions and storage areas around town. The employees clean, paint, wax floors, do minor carpentry and some plumbing and HVAC jobs.
The grounds crew consists of one and one-half full-time employees plus summer help from other areas. It mows just over 85 acres, 58 of which are in the town parks. In addition to grass-cutting, the men trim trees, maintain flowerbeds and irrigation systems, empty trash and prepare for and cleanup after various events.
Maintaining 95 miles of town roads, especially in the winter, involves the entire department crew. As of Feb. 2, DPW was called out over 40 times to deal with storm-related issues that required spreading over 1,000 tons of material. At the time of this report, another 400 tons of salt/sand, etc. was on order. Severance noted that considering the type of winter this has been, that amount is not likely to carry the town through the end of the season.
During the other three seasons, the crew overlays an average of 3.5 miles of road annually, the goal being to repair the roads so that a minimum of 10 years passes before more work is needed. Success seems to be a process of “chip sealing” a road and overlaying it with two inches of bituminous concrete. When a road is overlaid, the basins are repaired and their tops replaced. Any drainage concerns are also addressed.
Two full-time employees are dedicated to equipment maintenance. Not just the DPW trucks, but police cars, senior vans and administrative vehicles as well as lawn mowers, string trimmers and myriad other pieces of grounds-keeping equipment.
DPW crews also maintain the town’s two pump stations and the main sewer lines that run through the center to the Simsbury town line.
Although the town contracts with Paine’s to take trash and recycling to Hartford, DPW oversees the operation of the transfer station. Employees facilitate the arrival of construction debris and household items, including mattresses and electronics that are accepted free of charge. Severance noted that the town’s recycling is currently at 33 percent, the state goal being 60 percent of waste recycled. He also added that the tipping fees charged by the Materials Innovation and Recycling Authority (MIRA, formerly CRRA) are projected to be increased by 5.9 percent in the next fiscal year.
Stormwater management is maintained with standards set by MS4, Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System regulations designed to prevent pollution of local waters that can affect water as far away as the Connecticut River and Long Island Sound. The MS4 General Permit requires the town to complete an annual report to document its stormwater management practices. Road sweeping (primarily in developments and parking lots) and basin cleaning is an integral part of this process. Severance reported that by monitoring basin debris, the department is able to determine the most efficient schedule for the sweeping and basin work.
In conclusion, Severance noted that whenever possible, the department works with other local towns to share resources and equipment. In addition, the Capitol Regional Council of Governments and the state Department of Administrative Services assist the towns with functions including bid applications for materials such as road salt.