Friday, October 14 marked the opening of Sherman’s new public wash station, with First Selectman Clay Cope cutting the ribbon and Town Engineer Tony Iadarola leading a tour through the building and explaining its features. The prefabricated metal structure, located at 43 Route 39 North, began in April of this year and was finished 9/30/2016. It was funded by a combination of a STEAP (Small Town Economic Assistance Program) grant for $205,000 and $100,000 from the town of Sherman.
Construction went smoothly under Project Manager John Kuck of Hawley Construction Corporation out of Danbury, even when the original plan had to be modified to accommodate the Sherman Volunteer Fire Department’s new truck, whose ladder extended beyond the proposed height of the building.
Mr. Cope worked with the SVFD Chief to get the dimensions of new fire truck in advance of the truck being delivered, and the building was made wider and longer and the door size increased to be able to wash the new truck and have room to walk around the vehicle.
Despite this setback, “The wash station was completed on schedule and below budget,” Cope announced in his introduction. Mr. Iadorola concurred that money had been saved by using a design-build delivery method, stating in a follow-up email for this article, “When used in the construction industry [this method] brings great savings and value since it combines the contractor’s knowledge and the design professional’s expertise into one– plus it allows the project to be fast tracked. All of this occurs under a strongly monitored process which has a fully detailed design and performance criteria which is contractually binding.”
The wash station’s massive rolling door, at 25’ high taking up the entire front façade, opened to reveal Sherman’s biggest truck, a 6-wheel dump truck which was purchased this year for the purpose of plowing and salting. Its bed was tilted fully back to expose the chassis, the part most susceptible to rust and corrosion from road salt. “We have to take care of our valuable property,” emphasized Cope, referring not only to the dump truck’s cost but to that of the new fire truck and the planned expense of buying another large truck which will complete Sherman’s fleet of utility vehicles.
Besides allowing these large trucks to be washed as efficiently as possible and kept in top condition, the wash station will also function as a garage for storage some of the Public Works plow trucks and other equipment, keep them out of the weather and ready for emergency response to storms.
Additionally, as Iadarola pointed out, the wash station represents an ongoing cooperation among neighboring towns in sharing resources. Upon approval of the First Selectman, other towns can wash their vehicles in the state-of-the art facility.
The wash station sits on a 28’ by 60’ footprint of poured concrete warmed by radiant heat—important for preventing ice buildup (as well as for the comfort of the washers). At the back end of the building, a cubicle enclosed the gas-powered water heater, tank and controls. The water heater is on-demand and can heat water to a temperature of 160 degrees.
As an additional safety and health feature, when the waste water tank is ¾ full, Contiit automatically signals for a pump-out. When asked where the waste water goes and whether it was recyclable, Iadarola explained that he had looked into how to clean and repurpose the waste, but that the cost was prohibitive considering the high salinity of the water. The water is brought to a treatment plant in New Milford as the most cost-effective disposal system, which expense is covered in the annual budget of the Public Works Department. Earlier, the First Selectman had also addressed environmental issues, saying that the location had been approved by the Health Department as compliant with regulations preventing contamination of nearby water sources.
Two 50-feet hoses attached to ceiling tracks, as well as a circular high-power hose attachment that can spray underneath the vehicles, allow the crew to quickly and easily wash the entire vehicle. Climbing a 20-foot ladder, SVFD Firefighter Mike Lavia demonstrated how he could wash from the top down with a powerful jet of water at a pressure of 2,800 psi, adding soap with a touch of a button on the hose nozzle. Before leaving the opening ceremony to return to Town Hall, the First Selectman took a turn at the hose as well. The fine white spray highlighting his silhouette against the crystalline October air provided a dramatic image of Mr. Cope’s well-deserved pride in this latest addition to Sherman’s amenities.
By Alexis Mace