Repair or replace? Brown Deer weighs options for DPW building

Aug. 11, 2015

Brown Deer — Brown Deer village officials are seeking public input as to whether they should spend $6.5 million on a new public works building or make $1 million in improvements to the existing building.

A recent analysis by Bray Architects found the existing public works facility, located on a 3.9-acre lot at 8717 N. 43rd St., has failing garage doors, lacks insulation, insufficient space for proper vehicle storage, no restrooms for female employees, no emergency power supply, failing roofs on several structures and a substandard HVAC system.

Village officials say those repairs would cost $1 million, not including the additional 2,302 square feet of space needed to properly store vehicles. The limited garage space does not provide enough room for employees to wash and inspect trucks, and employees need to remove plow blades before parking trucks in the garage.

The $1 million in identified improvements does not include any additional maintenance needs that may spring up on the 49-year-old building in the future. The building was built in 1966 as a fire station, and was converted into a public works facility in the early 1990s. The building was partially renovated in 1996.

Village officials have sketched out preliminary plans to build a 4-acre DPW complex on a 6.5-acre plot of land located between Brown Deer Police Department and Rite Hite. The land is owned by Rite-Hite and is assessed at $1.1 million. The cost of constructing a new building is estimated to be $5.4 million, which village officials say is a high estimate that includes inflation.

The projected $6.5 million price tag for construction and land acquisition would increase taxes on a $135,000 home by $2.25 per month, or $27 per year.

The loss of tax revenue on the 6.5-acre Rite Hite property could be recouped by redeveloping the existing public works building, which is located in the recently redeveloped "Original Village" area. Village officials say the existing public works facility is somewhat out of place in the quaint neighborhood of shops and restaurants, and the neighborhood would be better served by a mixed-use development with high-end apartments and retail stores.

Additionally, by bringing the DPW building next to the village hall and police department, Brown Deer could create a civic campus that is more efficient for village employees, as well as residents who want to pay a bill at village hall while visiting the DPW's recycling center.

The public will have a chance to learn more about these plans during a community meeting at 5 p.m. on Aug. 26 at the Lois and Tom Dolan Community Center, 4355 W. Bradley Road. The public will have an opportunity to tour the existing public works building from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sept. 12. The village board will discuss the matter at 6:30 p.m. Sept. 21, and is scheduled to make a decision at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 5.

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