New public works building nearing completion

The new facility will increase crew efficiency and decrease taxpayer expense.

Public works building
The former field house area has been renovated into the new Public Works shop. The space will increase the efficiency of road and parks crews. (Leah Ward / The Globe)

WORTHINGTON — The new Worthington Public Works building is almost completed and ready for the department to occupy.

Formerly MC Fitness, the space was built at 1530 Rowe Ave. in the 1970s to accommodate the then-growing racquetball trend, explained City Administrator Steve Robinson. The two floors spanning 7,000 square feet each have been converted into public works space.

The first floor includes offices for the building maintenance director, the public works director, the park supervisor and the street supervisor; renovated locker rooms with extra-wide lockers to hold all of employees' gear; and a clean, bright break room for the 11 full-time and 14 part-time workers.

The unfinished second floor is mostly storage for the time being, including space for secure storage of documents currently housed in City Hall. There is also plenty of room for office expansion if needs at City Hall continue to grow, Robinson said.

The building also includes a 32,000-square-foot expansion that was built in 2004 as the field house. That space has been turned into the public works shop, and boasts seven miles of in-floor heating tubes and a mile and a half of electrical conduits.


"We will need just about all of this to accommodate all the equipment we have," Public Works Director Todd Wietzema said.

At present, public works is operating out of two separate buildings, on Diagonal Road and on First Avenue Southwest. Bringing the whole department under one roof will increase efficiency and save money, Wietzema said.

Due to space limitations, in order to use a vehicle parked in the middle of either current building, crews have to move outer vehicles first. Also, there is not enough storage space for snow plows, so not all of them can be hooked up at once and must be hooked up prior to use every time it snows.

These delays add between 30 and 45 minutes on each end of crews' shifts. That's an hour to an hour and a half of each employee's time, multiplied by 10 or 12 workers per shift.

Additionally, if a worker in one building needs a piece of equipment that is in the other building, it takes time to travel across town to retrieve the needed item.

Tax dollars have been paying for those extra hours. The new building will end that wasted time and expense.

"This way, five minutes and we're on the street," Robinson said.

"We tried to do everything as practically as possible," Wietzema noted., explaining that while the facility is a significant upgrade, it's not fancy or extravagant.


"We're pretty proud of this," Robinson added.

The renovation project cost about $3.3 million total, which is less than half what it would have cost to build new, Wietzema said.

Finishing touches are slated for completion Nov. 20, but Wietzema guessed construction crews will actually wrap up before then.

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