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 Residents drive through the Department of Public Works station during a previous household hazardous waste collection event. The city plans to undergo construction and create a new DPW building at the site.

Residents drive through the Department of Public Works station during a previous household hazardous waste collection event. The city plans to undergo construction and create a new DPW building at the site.

File photo by Patricia O’Blenes

City authorizes bonds for DPW facility spending

By: Eric Czarnik | Sterling Heights Sentry | Published July 26, 2019


STERLING HEIGHTS —  Work will not stop at the Sterling Heights Department of Public Works, despite the passage and funding of a plan to rebuild its headquarters, city officials said.

During a July 16 City Council meeting, the body passed in its consent agenda 6-0 a resolution that will issue as much as $25 million in capital improvement bonds toward constructing a new Department of Public Works building. Councilman Henry Yanez was absent.

The new DPW building will be on the same site as the current one, at 7200 18 Mile Road, between Mound Road and Van Dyke Avenue.

Department of Public Works Director Michael Moore gave a presentation explaining the need and plans for building a new, expanded headquarters. He said the current building is about to mark its 45th anniversary within the next two years, and there haven’t been any major building upgrades to it.

“So it’s in dire need of some kind of improvement or upgrade,” Moore said.

Moore explained that, among the building’s problems, workers have been concerned about being exposed to vehicle gases and exhaust. He also cited infrastructure issues and cracks in the walls.

Moore said the proposed building plan, crafted by Kueny Architects, is “designed to what the staff wants.”  

For instance, he said a new parking facility will be separate from the fleet maintenance garage.

Another major renovation to the building will be a larger break room to accommodate the size of the department’s staff and to allow mechanics to eat without worrying about exhaust fumes polluting their lunches, Moore said. He added that it will also be used for departmental training.

Moore added that the building will use 100% recycled steel in parts, and it will allow plenty of natural light into the interior. He said contractors will build the expanded building in phases, and “there will be zero interruptions to service to the public.”

“We really tried to go green as best as we could,” he said.

Moore thanked the Building, Engineering, IT, Planning, Purchasing and Fire and Police departments for offering advice and oversight toward the project. And Moore told the council that he is “very humbled that you’re even considering this option.”

While discussing the finances, he said the city bid out the DPW building project in June and hired LaSalle Inc. as the low bidder to handle the construction. Those costs amount to a base bid of almost $19 million, and some additions — such as storage structures and a vehicle wash bay — raise that total to around $20.1 million.

Moore praised LaSalle’s quality, adding that some of its other clients include Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Ford Motor Co. and Walmart.

Moore said the grand total allotted for the DPW project is $24.7 million, including about $950,000 to pay the architectural firm, about $450,000 for office furniture, and about $1.9 million-$2 million “in our back pocket” for unforeseen expenses.

Finance and Budget Director Jennifer Varney said the city is authorized to borrow $25 million through issuing bonds to be repaid over 20 years. She said the bond sale will take place Aug. 6, and she credited the city’s high bond rating and an interest rate environment of 2.5% or less for making it possible.

“There will be no tax increase to finance these bonds,” she added.

City Manager Mark Vanderpool said officials have been working hard over the past couple of years on the plans, which he called “super exciting.”  

“To get it to this point is quite gratifying,” Vanderpool said.

Mayor Michael Taylor credited the DPW for keeping residents’ water turned on, fixing water main breaks and keeping the roads plowed.

“This is a really incredible thing that we’re going to have. I mean, you guys deserve a first-class facility. You guys do tremendous work,” Taylor said. “This, I think, is going to help you guys do a better job to serve the residents.”

According to Moore, the city expects construction to start this September with an estimated work schedule of just over a year to finish the job.

Learn more about the Sterling Heights Department of Public Works, 7200 18 Mile Road in Sterling Heights, by visiting or by calling (586) 446-2440.