In an interview with the Islander, Town Manager Justin Van Dongen answered questions about the proposed new $1.9 million town garage on the ballot. ISLANDER FILE PHOTO

FAQ regarding a new public works garage in Southwest Harbor

Voters in Southwest Harbor will have two local questions before them on the ballot on July 14. One question is to approve changes to the proposed Coastal Waters and Harbor Ordinance. The second question is to approve construction of a new public works garage for $1.9 million. Earlier this week, the Islander asked Town Manager Justin VanDongen to answer frequently asked questions regarding the project.  


Islander: What is wrong with the current garage?  

VanDongen: The garage is no longer insured against loss (just liability insurance and contents are insured). The main building will be unusable during winter months moving forward due to the danger of snow load on the roof. 


Islander: Why is this costing more than it was originally proposed? 

VanDongenIt’s a significantly different project than what was originally proposed. What was originally proposed was never sent out to bid. So, we don’t know what the cost would have been for that. 


Islander: Why wasn’t it built sooner? 

VanDongen: Good question. It’s probably needed replacement for 10 years. I know (selectmen) have always been working toward it. It’s something I’ve worked on since I got here. 


Islander: Will the solar panels still be mounted? 

VanDongen: The town will be able to install solar panels on the new garage. 


Islander: When will building start if we approve this project and when is it expected to be finished? 

VanDongen: The hope is almost immediately, is when we’d like to get it started. We’d like to have it finished by December. 


Islander: What equipment will go inside? 

VanDongen: Everything we store in the three buildings we use now for that purpose. The new garage will help prolong the equipment life. A new brine system. We’ve had money set aside for quite a few years that would allow us to build a brine system to better pretreat roads. 


Islander: If the building itself is only about $150,000, what are the other costs forand what are the benefits? 

VanDongen: The last estimate on raw materials came out to $176,000. There’s quite a bit of concrete work and work with soils to support the concrete that needs to be done. 

The proposed steel building is projected to last 50 years or more. Inefficient layout of the current garage costs time for maintenance of vehicles and prevents staff from being able to work on multiple vehicles simultaneously. Improved locker room facilities will provide a safer work environment for employees and their families. An indoor washdown bay will extend the life of highway vehicles and equipment. 


Islander: What are the DEP requirements? 

VanDongen: A settlement pond to prevent sediment from the back lot washing into the stream. It is estimated to cost between $30,000 to $40,000 and is part of this total. 


Islander: Would it be cheaper to build this building on a new piece of land? 

VanDongen: No. 

Sarah Hinckley

Sarah Hinckley

Former Islander reporter Sarah Hinckley covered the towns of Southwest Harbor, Tremont and neighboring islands.

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