After nearly 70 years of use, the city’s public works yard on Bonito Street has been replaced with a new facility on West Route 66.
In a statement at Friday's ribbon cutting, Mayor Coral Evans said the new yard brings Flagstaff into the 21st century before thanking the staff who made the new yard possible. Also getting credit were Flagstaff voters, who in 2012 approved a $14 million bond to partially pay for the yard.
Evens said she was happy the city was able to provide the new yard within the projected time and budget.
Interim City Manager Barbara Goodrich said staff have been wanting to replace the public works yard since she started working for the city in 2000. Originally, the old public works yard had been used as a carriage house.
Public Works Director Andy Bertelsen said the fact they were using a carriage house to repair and maintain all the city vehicles, including fire trucks, snowplows, police cars and garbage trucks, limited the amount of maintenance that could be done on certain vehicles and was a problem the city had to address.
The new public works yard does not have these problems. It also has the space to allow the city’s fleet of vehicles to be kept indoors and out of the elements when not in use. At the old yard, a lack of space meant many vehicles were stored outside.
When combined with the better maintenance facilities, Bertelsen said the new yard means the city will be able to use their vehicles and heavy equipment longer.
“If you invest in a good piece of machinery and you take care of it over time than you can extend the lifespan of that piece of machinery, and with the services we will be able to provide, we hope to be able to do that,” said Bertelsen.
Bertelsen also said the new yard should last the city at least as long as the previous yard, and in the new location they have room to expand. At the moment, the new yard is home to the street maintenance section, solid waste and recycling, and fleet maintenance, but this could go up as more departments relocate to the new yard.
The yard also allows the city to track their vehicles using GPS and see the routes vehicles are on. Bertelsen said this can help the city figure out what is happening if someone reports their trash has not been picked up or their road has not yet been plowed. This technology is something that is becoming more and more common, Bertelsen said.
With the old yard in the middle of town, Bertelsen said the city had also received complaints from people about of all the noise caused by such large vehicles and pieces of machinery moving in and out at all hours of the day and night.
The city will also not have to move vehicles through the busy downtown, and Bertelsen said the new location allows them to easily deploy vehicles across the city.
The future for the land of the old public works yard is still not known, but Evans said many on council have been interested turning it into a park, with some pieces of the land used for affordable housing.
A section of the yard will be used as a urban farm for the city’s new urban farm incubator program.