Town Council approved the purchase of the former Power Electronics building at 310 S. Bassett St., to replace the public works building on West Street. The cost is $595,000, about half the cost of building a new facility, said Town Foreman Jeff Hurlock.

The opportunity to move to an existing building is saving the Town of Clayton about half the cost of constructing a new Public Works Department facility.

The building will provide more storage space and more room for town employees to work on equipment.

Town Council approved the purchase of the former Power Electronics building at 310 S. Bassett St. in March to replace the public works building on West Street. The cost is $595,000, with 35 percent of the money coming from the electric capital reserve fund and 65 percent coming from the impact fees fund. Council also budgeted a 15 percent contingency plan for unexpected costs, with the same funding sources.

“The town has been in need of a new public works building for many years,” said Mayor Dave Letterman. “Due to the growth over recent years…we have more to do and no storage space for the added equipment needed to service our residents. That forces us to currently leave the equipment outside. The building we currently use is in need of repair.”

Letterman said the facility on Bassett Street is the best of both worlds – a larger building than the town was planning but at a fraction of the cost of new construction.

“We are able to purchase the Bassett Street property and have a better end result for less money and it is move-in ready with room for future needs,” said Letterman.

Town Foreman Jeff Hurlock said the new building is about three times the size of the current public works building which has been used by the town for all 24 years he’s been town foreman. He believes the town has been using the building for about 50 years and that it was originally a Delaware Department of Transportation facility.

“We had a plan to build a new building, but we looked at this building on Bassett Street and it was half the cost,” Hurlock said. “Another advantage is it has a fenced-in lot. Right now any of our equipment outside is not fenced in and not secure.”

The Bassett Street building won’t require any renovations, Hurlock said. All that will be needed will be shelves and signs.

He said the public works department is hoping to move in about four weeks.

What’s going to happen to the current public works building?

“Right now, we’re not sure,” said Hurlock.

The building is in a residential district, so it couldn’t be used for a business without a zoning variance; however, someone might be interested in using it for storage.

“If we’re not able to sell it, we’ll probably use it for storage of snow plows and sand – things we only use once in a while,” said Hurlock, “but the long-term plan is to sell it.”

The five-person public works crew uses the West Street building for equipment storage and a place to repair and maintain vehicles and equipment. The police department also stores some equipment there.

“Now, we’re basically a one-bay shop,” said Hurlock. “When we do maintenance on a town vehicle, there’s hardly room to walk around the vehicle.”

Gary Everage, who’s worked for 11 years on the town crew, said the new building will provide much needed space and protection for equipment.

“It will be good to get more of our equipment inside, out of the weather. It will help it last longer,” Everage said. “We’ll also have more room to work. Right now, there’s not a lot of room inside where we can do maintenance and repairs.”