Groundbreaking is latest step in long road to new Valparaiso public works campus
BY JAMES D. WOLF JR. Post-Tribune correspondent January 14, 2014 12:20PM
Updated: February 16, 2014 6:25AM
VALPARAISO — It’s been more than 10 years in the making, and come October, it should be complete.
On Monday, city officials took the first step in actual construction of the new Public Works Campus. A groundbreaking ceremony was held for the new facility, at 1855 Joliet Road, that will replace the current Public Works Department grounds off Axe Avenue at 406 Don Hovey Drive.
Most of the buildings at the old location were constructed around World War II and have been small and inadequate for storing the equipment for a long time, officials have said.
“For decades, Public Works has been looking forward to a new facility, “ Public Works Director Matt Evans said.
Mayor Jon Costas apologized to the public works employees who made up some of the crowd of more than 50 people gathered in the warm afternoon, noting that his administration had run into twists, false starts and budget constraints since he promised the new campus about a decade ago.
Noting the public works employees’ dedication during last week’s blizzards and subzero temperatures, Costas said they were deserving.
“We have a super team, and we are mindful of the efforts and sacrifices you made on behalf of the city,” he said.
Having the 75 employees of Public Works and from the City Utilities Department working together should make the city more efficient, Costas said.
The new campus will have more than 79,000 square feet of buildings for administrative offices, a paint and sign shop, vehicle maintenance and equipment storage.
There’s room for expansion, including 5,250 square feet of unfinished office space and room for another truck storage building, plus a salt barn.
City Administrator Bill Oeding, one time Public Works Director, noted that another former director and a city council member couldn’t attend the ceremony.
Bob Taylor (R-1), who’s been a stalwart advocate of a new public works facility, survived a heart attack Friday.
Oeding said that Taylor requested being able to cut the ribbon when the campus officially opens in the fall.