By JOSEPH DITS
South Bend Tribune
10:59 PM EST, November 19, 2012
MISHAWAKA -- The city council voted 8-0 Monday to appropriate the money to buy the massive old Scott Brass building, just south of downtown, so it can relocate about 150 vehicles inside, plus its winter salt.
The city expects to acquire the 11-acre site at 700 S. Union St. by the end of December and start more than $1 million in renovations in January, which should take a year, said Street Commissioner Ronald "Mike" Watson.
It would replace the city's current Central Services campus: eight structures on 5.8 acres at 500 N. Cedar St. that's hemmed in by residential neighborhoods.
"We are not a particularly good neighbor," Mayor Dave Wood said, giving council members a virtual tour of the Cedar site and urging purchase of the Scott Brass site. Showing a garage with holes in the roof, he said, "We wouldn't tolerate a building like that from residences."
Out of the $970,000 that the council OK'd taking from the city's Rainy Day Fund, $785,000 would pay all of the purchase price for the former Scott Brass site.
The remaining $185,000 will be used to replace the city phone system, which is more than 10 years old and hard to fix because the parts are obsolete, said city controller Yvonne Milligan. The new system would allow the city to move to voice-over Internet protocol.
Scott Brass, which made copper and strips, closed in 2008. At 143,000 square feet, its building boasts three times the space as compared with the structures at Cedar.
Dale "Woody" Emmons, D-1st, asked how much the bigger building would boost the city's utility costs. Watson said the bill likely would go up but that, as "cold storage," it would be heated only enough to keep equipment from freezing. Also, crews could use tarps to section off smaller areas for heating.
Matt Mammolenti, D-at large, asked if the larger salt storage would help the city to save on salt prices. "Very little," Watson said, noting the real benefit is the city is less likely to run out of salt.
John Roggeman, D-at large, asked which street the big vehicles would use to access the new site from Union. Watson said most of the heavy traffic would use Eighth Street. He said the city would look at improvements to Union as "we don't want to back up traffic."
Wood said it also would allow the city to move millions of dollars worth of equipment inside from the winter snow, from picnic tables to snowplows. "It has so much potential for making us efficient," Watson said.
Wood said the city would clean up the Cedar campus, an environmental cleanup estimated at $2 million to $5 million, for residential use.
Staff writer Joseph Dits:
Copyright © 2013, South Bend Tribune