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Longmeadow needs 21st century DPW

Date: 11/14/2014

In 1931, when our Department of Public Works maintenance complex was constructed, Longmeadow had 1294 dwellings, a population of 4437, and 23 miles of roadways. According to the 2010 census, our town has 5948 housing units with a population 15,784. We presently have 91 miles of asphalt roads, 71 miles of sidewalks, over 100 miles of roadway drains and over 100 miles of water lines of various sizes.

In 1931, our fleet was comprised of Model T Ford trucks. Today our DPW fleet includes dump trucks, backhoes, tractors, mowers, a sewage vacuum truck, as well as many smaller pick-up trucks, sedans, and SUVs. Our shops are so small and outdated that our snow removal trucks do not fit into our repair shop resulting in our staff working on these vehicles outside when we have active snowplowing operations underway.

Our DPW operations experienced significant increases in responsibility over the years.  DPW now includes Parks and Recreation. DPW cares for all town buildings, water systems, sewage systems, roadways, recreational facilities including grounds. With the enactment of our Charter, DPW was given the additional responsibility to maintain all school structures including sports fields.

The Select Board voted to not use the present site for the construction of a new DPW complex. Because the current complex was constructed on an abandoned burn dump, the walls and floor slabs of the structures continue to crumble due to lack of structural support from the soils. The deplorable condition of the DPW complex has been recognized for over thirty years, and yet we as a town, have failed to take corrective actions.

For our upcoming Nov. 18 Special Town Meeting, there is an article on the warrant to fund the preliminary design and evaluation of potential sites to determine the best fit for our community.

Please support the warrant article so we may begin the preliminary step to bring our DPW complex up to the standards that will allow our employees to meet the demands of 21st century Longmeadow.

Richard Foster
Longmeadow Select Board