Mounds View Public Works Building construction is full steam ahead

A long overdue construction project, according to many city staff and representatives, is the renovation of the old public works building at 2466 Bronson Drive. Officially breaking ground in early April, the project is anticipated to be completed at the end of 2018.

Public Works Director Brian Erickson summarized the department’s building needs in three words: “Not enough space.”

A camera on the water tower takes a photo of the project every minute, capturing the entire demolition and construction process. (Photo courtesy of Mounds View Public Works)

A public works facility space needs study determined that the building needed more space for vehicle storage and mechanic and administrative spaces.

“It was very difficult to move through the building,” Erickson said. “When all the vehicles were in, we had no room for staff to get around easily. For example, if there was a sewer backup on a weekend, our guys would have to move at a minimum four vehicles to get our sewer truck out.

Equipment was often parked in three or four vehicles deep and a drive-in/drive-out was not possible with the existing layout.

“For my guys to get out there as fast as they can, it makes it a little difficult when they have to move four other trucks,” Erickson said.

He said another big reason that this renovation was needed was the building’s inability to store plow trucks with the plows attached. In the winter, plow trucks would have to be moved outdoors to attach the front-mounted plows because there was not enough space in the building to accomplish the task.

“With our new facility, we will be able to keep the plows inside the building, and the guys can hook them up with more light and less snow, and a little more safely,” Erickson said.

Erickson said the life expectancy for the new building is 20 years, but he anticipates that it will last longer.

“Part of it is, that although pickup [trucks] over the last 10 years have gotten bigger, but there is other equipment has gotten smaller and more efficient in how we use them,” Erickson said. “I would suspect that this building, once its completed and we’re all moved in, an easy 25 years space wise.”

The Mounds View Public Works facility had a number of space limitations. It was often difficult to maneuver equipment and vehicles out of the building, as some would be parked three or four vehicles deep. (Submitted photo)

As a GreenStep City, Mounds View will be implementing best management practices into the new facility. There are plans for LED lighting with occupancy sensors to save money on electricity, efficient boilers for heating, and additional and upgraded insulation for the roof and walls. Other energy-saving practices include daylight dimming controls during daytime hours, so ceiling lights can be reduced if ample sunlight is available. Infiltration basins for storm water management will also be added in the south and east of the parking lot.

Erickson said there are also plans to replant trees around the building, as many will be removed during the construction process. He added that the biggest oak tree on Mounds View Boulevard will remain in place.

Other services

Honoring those who make the community a great place to live, National Public Works Week is celebrated in many cities across the nation.

Public works departments play a critical role in the daily lives of all residents, and many of their services can go unrecognized. The Mounds View public works staff provide residents and businesses with clean drinking water, safe collection of wastewater, clear passageway of streets, reliable flood protection, beautiful parks, groomed athletic fields and recreational facilities, comfortable building spaces, and cost-effective, sustainable solutions for the long-term performance and delivery of these services. The public works department impacts the daily life of all residents in Mounds View.

With many arising issues in neighboring communities, Mounds View is proactively addressing safe drinking water concerns.

Erickson said the city inspects its six wells on a seven year cycle. Typically inspecting one a year, the routine well-maintenance consists of pulling the piping, pump and other materials out of the well shaft for cleaning and inspection.

“That way we can ensure that the wells are in good shape, everything is functioning, and we can prevent a catastrophic failure,” Erickson said. “It’s easier to spend on this maintenance than wait for a repair, because repairs can cost significant dollars.”

A rendering of the new Mounds View public works facility. The project will consist of a new facility, equipment storage, shop space, administrative offices and more. (Photo courtesy of Mounds View Public Works)

Erickson added that in addition to maintenance, the city is looking into different treatment processes for clean water. An engineering firm recently inspected the three water treatment plans in Mounds View to make recommendations for upgrades. He said the city could anticipate a project sometime in 2019 to improve the treatment process and upgrade the Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) system.

This system allows the city to keep track of running pumps, amount of water in the tower and reservoir, indication of an issue and other supervisory tactics.

In addition to safe drinking water, the maintenance and upkeep on sanitary sewer system is also essential to ensure clean water is accessible for all residents.
For sewer system maintenance, a camera van, essentially a camera on wheels, runs through all the sanitary sewer lines and can be controlled to inspect the lines through video. The camera allows public works to locate a break or issue, which can be fixed immediately or noted to be fixed in a future street project.

The department’s largest piece of equipment, the vactor, is used to clean sand and debris out of lines, as well as cut tree roots. Erickson said since sanitary lines always have water in them, they can be an attractive place for tree roots to get into.

Street crews ensure that all roadways and sidewalks are maintained, clear of potholes and snow and ice in the winter.

Another aspect of public works includes stormwater management to provide flood control, collect and treat stormwater runoff and maintain surface water quality. The department also manages all public parks and facilities, ensuring all fields are mowed, athletic facilities maintained and picnic shelters are cared for, among other responsibilities.

For a full list of all services by public works, visit the city website at

Contact Sarah Burghardt at [email protected]