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WATERLOO, Iowa --- A major building project at the former Construction Machinery Corp. site could transform the city's public works operations by the end of this year.

An enormous 150,000-square-foot building on Glenwood Street is expected to be ready for occupancy near the end of 2013. Carrying an overall $10 million price tag and with the combined space of three football fields, the facility will house up to 200 vehicles in the city's motor pool under one roof while consolidating various departments now working in scattered locations.

"I think it's going to be great for the city and a real positive for the neighborhood," said Public Works Director Mark Rice. "The employees are excited about it too. They've worked in less-than-perfect conditions for a lot of years."

City Council members this week approved a $745,000 alternate to continue building out the facility. The total contract with Larson Construction Co., of Independence, is close to $9 million, which is on top of earlier architectural and engineering costs.

Funding for the project includes a $5 million state I-JOBS grant, a $1 million grant from the Black Hawk County Gaming Association and nearly $3 million in general obligation bonds repaid with property taxes.

The building will provide indoor parking for the street department fleet, sanitation trucks, traffic operations vehicles and a large collection of smaller cars and trucks. There are automated truck wash bays, a garage area for vehicle maintenance and repairs, a welding shop and numerous offices and workshops. A mezzanine will provide ample storage space.

By early 2014, the building is expected to house the street department and central garage, which currently operate on Black Hawk Street; the traffic operations department now in a building near City Hall, including meter repair crews at a parking ramp location; engineering technicians now housed in City Hall; sanitation trucks now at the waste water treatment plant on Easton Avenue; and building maintenance crews located in the former Black Hawk Sprinkler building on Sycamore Street.

"I think communication will be improved greatly," Rice said of the centralization. "Now, so many departments have to work together," while they are located in different areas around the city.

The city's fueling station, which also serves Black Hawk County and Waterloo Community Schools, will remain on Black Hawk Street. But Rice hopes eventually to construct a second fueling station near the new building.

"We learned in 2008 that having fuel on both sides of the river was important," said Rice, referring to Cedar River flooding that shut down multiple bridges.

Meanwhile, the project has utilized a former "brownfields" location.

The city demolished the former burned-down industrial site and used state and federal grants to clean up extensive underground contamination at the former CMC plant. An area on the west side of the building is still a "no dig" zone, but the city just got clearance to remove test wells and pave around the exterior.

Rice said an open house for the community to check out the new building likely will be held next spring.

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Waterloo City Reporter

Waterloo city reporter for the Courier

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