COMMERCIAL-NEWS | ROBERT TOMLINSON - Pictured is the current cold storage barn the St. Joseph County Road Commission uses to store their off-season equipment. The barn will be replaced with a new steel structure next year, as the road commission board approved a $668,309 bid for one at their meeting Wednesday, Nov. 16.

Road Commission approves bid for new storage barn

CENTREVILLE — The St. Joseph County Road Commission will be getting a new cold storage barn for its seasonal equipment next year, due to the deteriorating condition of its current one.

At their Wednesday, Nov. 16 meeting, the road commission board approved a $668,309 bid from James Ware Construction for a new 90-foot by 150-foot steel storage barn, to be constructed during 2023. Road Commission officials said the price was down by just over $9,000 from its original $677,600 quote.

The new barn will replace a 40-year-old 40-foot by 138-foot pole barn the agency currently uses to store some of its seasonal equipment when it’s not being used. Road Commission Manager John Lindsey said the reason it’s being replaced is because of the deteriorating condition on some of its supports, notably rotting on some of the wooden pole structures.

“It’s been a problem for about a decade. We knew we needed to replace it, but we had other things to do with the consolidation and everything that had to be done before we could get everybody here,” Lindsey said in an interview after the meeting. “This is the last piece building-wise to set us up for 50-plus years before we need to do any more structural stuff to this complex.”

Lindsey added the project has been budgeted for the last “three or four” years, saying that 2023 was “when we’re going to do the barn.”

“It’s not just something we decided recently. All the years we’ve known this barn has been in bad condition, probably the last six or eight years especially, we’ve been working on this,” Lindsey said. “We can only spend 10 percent of our budget on capital outlay [every year], and that’s Act 51 law. So, we do trucks and equipment, and all those things just took priority over this barn. We knew it would be a fairly high number, half-million to $600,000 number, so we usually budget $700,000 to $800,000, no more than a million, to do capital outlay every year, and this is the year we’re putting [the barn] into that budget.”

During discussion at Wednesday’s meeting, Lindsey said there were was “quite a bit” of interest from companies on building a barn, but Ware’s bid was the lone bid officially submitted for the project. He said that was mainly because he didn’t want another pole barn-like structure to store the equipment. Director of Fleets and Facilities Nate Taylor confirmed that some of the companies who inquired prior to bidding were looking at bidding for a pole barn structure.

“Three out of the five [companies] wanted to provide us with a pole barn like we have now,” Taylor said. “To me, at some point, you’re going to be in the same boat as you are with this [current one]. It’s a standing structure that the wind can take over at any time.”

Lindsey said he is “comfortable” with Ware doing the work, saying Ware “knows what he’s done here” in the past.

Board member Rodney Chupp said while it was “rough” to spend the money on the barn, he said it was a necessary thing to do.

“The economy’s a little unclear, it’s rough having to spend this much money on a building, but we have to keep the different compartments of this organization in order. That includes equipment and includes road work and includes a lot of things, and part of it is you have to have a facility to keep your stuff in,” Chupp said. “As much as I hate spending that much, I will support it because management says we need it, plus I think we could potentially have a dangerous building out here right now and the last thing we need is having some huge storm event and our on-call people come in to get equipment, and we don’t want a building landing on them.”

Overall, Lindsey said after the meeting that the agency cannot wait too much longer to replace the barn.

“We can’t wait until that barn falls down, fails, the wind blows it over, so we want to be a little bit proactive to get it repaired before it fails, and it is at that point,” Lindsey said.

In other business…

  • Lindsey reported that the annual township meetings for township road work went “well,” estimating that there was $1.2 million in road work asks, with just $750,000 the agency is estimated to use this coming year with their 50/50 match. He said the projects will be sorted out by Dec. 15.

Robert Tomlinson can be reached at 279-7488 ext. 22 or robert@threeriversnews.com.

Three Rivers Commercial-News

124 North Main Street
Box 130
Three Rivers, MI 49093

Telephone: 269-279-7488
Fax: 269-279-6007
General email: info@threeriversnews.com