Plans for new Rockport DPW building scaled back

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Jun. 28—ROCKPORT — New, trimmed down designs of the proposed DPW Facility will be unveiled at the start of July.

From there, the DPW Facility Building Committee will decide if it wants to continue with the project or shelve it for the time being.

The initial design for the project went out to bid last year, but the lowest bid came back still about $2.2 million over budget. The town has allocated $12.25 million for the project.

Bruce Reed, DPW commissioner and member of the Facility Building Committee, blamed the price hike on rising material costs. As the pandemic ravaged the globe last year, many steel manufacturers were required to cut back on production. Now that we're entering a post-pandemic era, demand is high and supply is low.

"It's just a problem," he said. "What we're hearing is that other towns with similar projects are in similar situations that we're in. Some have decided to delay until the prices go back down."

After an unsuccessful round of bidding, the DPW Facility Building Committee asked the project designers, Weston and Sampson, to draft up a cheaper option.

"We're not compromising on work space," Reed said. "The working spaces need to be appropriate. A lot of what's being cut is storage."

For example, Reed said, the committee agreed to get rid of the proposed overhang awning for emergency vehicles parked outside. A row of storage lockers at the center of the building is also expected to make the building's footprint smaller. The committee is also reportedly considering getting smaller, portable vehicle lifts instead of bulkier, permanent ones.

"On paper, we may be able to make it," said Reed. "But then, we're now hearing about contractors. They're worried about their bottom lines and they're increasing contingency funds. We don't know if we have the money now, but you never really know until a project goes out to bid."

The new draft will be made public at the next DPW Building Committee meeting. Although the meeting has yet to be scheduled, Reed said he believes it will take place sometime in the first week of July.

Michael Cronin may be contacted at 978-675-2708, or mcronin@gloucestertimes.com.

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