Should Everett Public Works Move Out of Sight?

March 9, 2017

Everett Government

public works

Is this property too valuable to be used for public works facilities?

Everett Public Works Employees

You can see where epoxy has been used to fill the cracks in building 1

public works

The Everett Public works complex is made up of multiple buildings and open space on 10.8 acres

public works

Most buildings on the complex are below current building standards and would likely fail in a major earthquake.

The City of Everett is still considering what to do with the public works facility that covers about 10.8 Acres in north Everett off Pacific and west of I-5.

Spreading over a four block area many of the buildings are approaching 50 years old. (for example, building 1 is 46 years old.

Last fall the Everett City Council tabled a plan that would have allowed the Public Works Department to demolish six and a half buildings and re-arrange the site with five buildings that are up to today’s building codes.

At that time multiple council members expressed concern that the facilities sit at a major gateway to Everett and would like to see a higher and better use for that property. City administration was asked to come back with alternative sites.

Last night the council approved a measure to spend $33,300.00 with an engineering firm to review past seismic assessments of the current buildings and three additional buildings and come up with a plan to strengthen the current buildings to what they call a collapse prevention performance level where they would be safer than they are now for a period of five to ten years but would still really just be a band-aid type of fix.

The firm would also have to provide an estimated cost for that temporary fix.

The council again last night expressed its desire to review alternate plans and city administration promised they were working on alternates but could not make those available because they involve real estate transactions which could not be disclosed in public right now.

Recently took a tour of the Public Works Facilities to seek what kind of use was being made of the land and buildings.

First thing to consider is just what all is inside that 10.8 acre complex. There are 354 staff who work at various buildings that make up the current Everett Public Works complex. That does not include the filtration plant or wastewater treatment facility.

  • Street Department – maintain roads, bridges, traffic signals + controls, signage and utilities underneath.
  • Water Department – water supply for all of Everett and most of Snohomish County includes maintaining quality, distribution, storage, safety and repair.
  • Sewer and Drainage Department – operate and maintain wastewater collection systems, lift stations, sewage flow and drainage systems.
  • Building Department – issue and check building permits, review plans and developments and inspect buildings.
  • Engineering – two sets of engineers one for streets and roads (including traffic control) and the other for utilities.
  • Motor Vehicle – maintenance of all Everett fleet vehicles including public works, police, fire and city.
  • Shipping and receiving – warehousing and inventory of all parts and materials needed to operate the city.
  • Facilities – staff and materials to fix city owned property and public facilities.
  • Shops – welding shop, wood shop, sign shop, meter shop plus fabrication staff and construction managers.
  • GIS Mapping – keeping track of all pipes, switches, valves, etc. embedded in the ground throughout Everett.
  • Technical Services – operate water distribution system and pumping stations, sewer lift stations.
  • Public Information – Outreach and Public Education.
  • Traffic Management Center – monitor traffic cameras and intersection controls.
  • Transit Operations – maintain bus fleet and repair vehicles.

One way to sum it all up would be to say that other than electrical, gas, phone and cable, everything in the public right of way is likely maintained by the Everett Public Works Department.

public works

The traffic management center has 25 cameras and controls 176 traffic signals in Everett.

Once emergency response is over after a natural disaster such as a major earthquake comes recovery.

Restoration of water, sewer, drainage, streets and bridges all fall upon the Everett Public Works Department.

It is worth noting if they can’t get to their materials, vehicles and operating systems because their buildings are down or if they can’t get to their work stations and equipment because they have been moved to an area of the city that is not accessible, that also may need to count as a consideration of highest and best use of their current location.

The area used by public works has grown over the past 50 years and while that growth was not always planned it has led to greater efficiency when it comes to serving people in Everett including…

  • Developers can get most any question answered in one place as opposed to running around the city to different departments as the subject matter experts are located in one central location.
  • Streamlined process helps make turn-around time on building permits in Everett fast. That makes Everett more attractive when competing for projects.
  • The majority of repair issues in Everett are located in the north end where the infrastructure is aging and the central location makes for a faster response with fewer miles.
  • The controls for water switching systems, sewage flow, traffic management, etc. are all sent to the current location of the Public Works Facility. You can’t just pick up the building. There’s a lot of stuff attached.

The Everett City Council has made it clear that they are aware of the danger faced by public works employees with the structural condition of the facility and action needs to be taken.

The Public Works staff says they are working to provide ideas outside of the box and are trying to be open minded.

Meanwhile the clock is ticking on whether a solution will happen before the next major earthquake.

About myeverettnews

My Everett News is a hyperlocal news website featuring breaking news and events in Everett, WA. We also cover City of Everett information and items of interest to those who live and work in Everett. It's written by Leland Dart a former Snohomish County based radio reporter born and raised in Everett.

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