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Waterloo Public Works graphic

WATERLOO --- A neighborhood eyesore was removed with the demolition of the former Construction Machinery Corp. plant near the intersection of Vinton and Glenwood streets.

Now Waterloo city leaders have unveiled their vision for an improvement to fill the void: a more than $5 million, 130,000-square foot building to house the public works department and store the large fleet of city vehicles and equipment.

"We've got enough room there at 11 acres," said Central Garage Superintendent Mark Rice. "It will be good for the neighborhood, I think, something positive in the neighborhood."

A neighborhood informational meeting on the project is slated for 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at Four Square Gospel Church, 907-909 Independence Ave.

Preliminary designs developed by Kueny Architects of Pleasant Prairie, Wis., will be presented and city staff will answer questions about the building and cleanup of the former manufacturing site generally bounded by Glenwood Street, Linden Avenue and Martin Luther King Jr. Drive.

Construction Machinery Corp. produced cement mixers and other construction equipment for many years before closing under financial duress. A successor company went bankrupt in the early 1990s, leaving the industrial complex a hazard and target for arsonists. The city acquired the property in 2004 and used state and federal grants to demolish many of the buildings and clean up substantial underground contamination.

Ward 4 City Councilman Quentin Hart said the new public works building is something neighbors of CMC deserve.

"This is a great improvement for the neighborhood and the city," Hart said. "The majority of folks I'm talking to (in the neighborhood) are excited about that area being redeveloped. It's long overdue."

Preliminary architectural plans show the existing building on the site would be expanded to nearly five times its existing footprint.

The facility would house the central garage, which handles vehicle maintenance, and the street department, which are both currently located on Black Hawk Street; traffic operations, currently located in a building across East Sixth Street from City Hall; and building maintenance operations, now working out of City Hall.

The building also will have room for 150 vehicles, ranging from motor pool compact cars to garbage and dump trucks and motor graders.

"All the vehicles you see parked under (elevated Highway 218) will be in there," Rice said.

The city received a $5 million I-JOBS grant from the state of Iowa to help pay for the project. But additional city bond funds may be required to complete the work depending on how bids come in. A bid opening is expected in April, pending City Council approval.

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