Marshfield, WI (OnFocus) Marshfield Utilities is continuing plans to construct a new facility at its current site at 2000 S. Central Ave. south of Hefko pool.
The building was constructed in 1965 and is now “functionally obsolete,” according to Mike Eberl, President of Marshfield Utility Commission, in a presentation to Common Council on Jan. 14.
Improvements have been in discussion for 30 years as the building became less and less adequate to the needs of the utility and its customers due to increases of staff and equipment, plus changes in technology.
During that time Marshfield Utilities explored renovation of the existing facility, but determined a new building was the most cost-effective solution in order to meet the space needed and because of the constraints of the substation, overhead and underground utilities, and grading issues.
In 1999, the water department was moved out of the current building to S. Oak Ave. to make room.
“Back then we expected it to be a five-year solution while we worked on figuring out a building,” said Eberl. “It’s been 20 years.”
Plans for a new $17.5 million, 82,600 square foot facility were presented to the Council with construction to begin March 2021 with completion by the end of 2022. The office spaces and part of the garage/material storage would be constructed first to minimize disruption to customers followed by the demolition of the current building and the construction of the remainder of the garage/material storage.
The building plans include options for further expansion if needed, according to General Manager Nicolas Kumm.
Customers would see an estimated electric rate increase of 5-6 percent, about $4 a month for residential customers with the latest rate case dating back to 2017. This new rate would go into effect in 2023 after completion of the building. Water rates will not be affected by the project.
“We focus on providing values for our services and competitive rates,” said Kumm. “With the additional increase, our retail residential electric rates will still be considerably less than the neighboring utilities and very competitive with other municipal electric utilities.”
Marshfield Utilities has collaborated with many city departments including the Parks department so the building and pool projects will work cohesively on the site. “The facilities are closer together, however that will be mitigated by fencing, trees, and other additional landscape measures,” he said.
A 2011 space needs study estimated that Marshfield Utilities would require at least 77,500 square feet to accommodate present and future needs, over double the 33,899 square feet currently available between the utility and water office buildings.
The increase in space is needed to accommodate a larger fleet and bigger vehicles. Marshfield Utilities has over 45 vehicles and trailers. While the current garage was designed to support 10 utility vehicles, 17 are stored there. The new garage would include room for a formal shop area to repair vehicles, equipment and material storage, and a dedicated driving lane.
“A new facility will allow us to better serve our customers today and into the future,” said Kumm. “Faster response times, easier access for customers, more space to protect equipment, and increased efficiency in operations are a few of the advantages a new facility provides.”
Marshfield Utilities has developed a virtual tour of the existing building to demonstrate the challenges of the facility, available at www.marshfieldutilities.org. Customers can call the main office at 715-387-1195 to set up a time for a tour of the facility.
The Utility Commission will hold a special meeting on Jan. 24 to approve the project and the item will move for final approval by the Common Council on Feb. 11.