City Councilors approved the demolition of the city's public works facility, but an attempt to funding preliminary design work for a new facility stalled Tuesday.
During its meeting Tuesday night, the council unanimously approved a request from the Mayor to use $160,000 to demolish the yard, and a second request to spend $63,000 relocating the condemned.
In 2009, six of the vehicle bays were condemned after the roof began to cave in. In late July, Mayor Michael McGlynn called for the remaining 11 bays to be shuttered and for the yard to be demolished.
McGlynn has also been attempting to finance the initial design phase for a new facility to be built at 21 James St. since early this year, but has been unable to get the five votes necessary from the city council for a bond. The design work would cost $1.27 million.
City Councilors Breanna Lungo-Koehn, Michael Marks and Robert Penta previously voted against financing the design work in February because they wanted the city to consider other locations for the public works yard and whether a combined police, fire and public works "mega-plex" would be feasible.
On Tuesday, McGlynn offered the council a different way to pay for the design work: A request to transfer the money from a fire insurance fund, containing $1.6 million. A fund transfer requires only four votes from the council.
But discussion on that request was shut down Tuesday night when Penta invoked "section 22," which allows a single councilor end debate on a subject.
A space needs study is currently underway for the fire and public works departments, and on Tuesday the three councilors said they wanted to wait until that was completed in mid-September before voting on the design work.
Though the council rejected the recent attempt for design work on a new yard, the facility has been in poor condition for over 20 years under the mayor's watch, Penta said.
"You’ve waited this amount of time, what’s a month?” Penta said to public works workers at Tuesday's meeting.
Bill Storella, a representative for the Public Works workers union, said the longer the workers go without the yard will create more problems it will create. In winter, salt and sand will be stored across the city from a temporary site for vehicle storage.
"Every week delayed is another week we need to be in another location," Storella said. "Every day matters at this point."
Lungo-Koehn and Marks both said they wanted to wait until the space study was completed in September.
"We need to take our time," Lungo-Koehn said. "We are dealing with the taxpayers money."
"You can’t have both and then be working on the other one, it just doesn’t make any sense," Marks said.
Councilor Paul Camuso said he was initially interested in looking into a combined facility, but after hearing from people within the departments and others, decided it wouldn't work.
"After the outpouring of people who said they were against it, I decided it wasn’t feasible," he said.
Before invoking Section 22, Penta said spending the $1.27 million would be "stupid."
"This is voting against something that I think is completely stupid and a waste of our procurement officer's time," he said.