By MADELINE HUGHES
The sun shone down on the new six-bay town garage on Saturday morning. The parking lot was full as dozens of Hinesburg residents gathered to celebrate the garage’s grand opening.
Inside, children and parents milled around looking at the gleaming highway equipment, and friends and neighbors chatted about the accomplishment.
“We’d like to thank the taxpayers that made this happen,” Town Administrator Renae Marshall told the crowd as people gathered around 10 a.m. “These guys finally have a space that is safe and spacious to work.”
Her remarks were met with a round of applause.
Marshall then unveiled a surprise that had been months in the making: She announced that the town was dedicating the building to Highway Foreman Michael Anthony. The honor came together after Thomas Boivin, a crewmember of the department, approached Marshall with the suggestion, she recalled.
“He’s dedicated to taking care of the equipment, as you can see,” Marshall said, pointing out that the foreman made the table in the break room by hand to thank the town for the project.
Anthony has been the road foreman for nearly 25 of the 36 years he has worked in the Hinesburg Highway Department.
“Thank you to the people of Hinesburg,” Anthony said after the celebration. “They whole department looked forward to the project over the years and now we are shell-shocked [that] it’s done.
“It means a lot to us,” he said. The new space “makes it so much safer. We are not rushing to get things done in one day because we can leave projects overnight” with space to work in the garage.
The new spacious garage replaces the old structure built in the 1950s. Voters approved the $3.1 million project on Town Meeting Day in 2017. Work began that fall, and wrapped up in August.
“We’ve watched all kinds of construction projects, but this one is huge,” said Assistant Town Administrator Joy Dubin Grossman with a smile. The town garage is the town’s biggest asset, holding the variety of road equipment needed to care for the 63 miles of Hinesburg roads, Dubin Grossman explained.
In the old garage, caked-on snow and ice wouldn’t melt off when the trucks were stored between shifts. Now when snowplows are left in the garage, the heating and drainage system allows them the opportunity to thaw.
At 12,000 square feet, the new garage is much bigger than the former building. Workers can now easily store and maneuver the town’s four dump trucks, flatbed truck, pick-up truck, grader, front loader, tractor, plow and various other implements that go on the tractor in the building, explained Selectboard member Andrea Morgante.
Part of the project was to re-locate both the garage and the nearby salt shed away from the stream on the southern edge of the property to comply with current state stormwater regulations.
“We went above and beyond state regulations to address stormwater since it’s so close to the stream,” said Morgante.
She added that the garage was also built to accommodate a Chittenden Solid Waste District trash and recycling drop-off location. The previous garage had a drop off, which the waste district closed during construction for the new garage. The district has not resumed service yet, although town and waste district officials are discussing how that could happen in 2019.
Multiple Hinesburg residents were instrumental in the project, Marshall said Saturday. She thanked Stephen Smith of Smith-Alvarez-Sienkiewycz, Architects, Derek Siegler of LN Consulting, Mel Doherty and Tom Barden in addition to Russel Construction and Milone & MacBroom.