Public Works employees grateful for new shop

Barbara Lawlor, Nederland. No more trying to fix an ancient Mack plow truck while the wind blasts gravel into your eyes as you lie in a mud puddle under the chassis.

No more trying to find tools in the hodge podge accumulation of stuff that piles up in the inadequate work space.

No more breathing the asbestos that was in the former facility built in 1954.



It is gone. The Nederland Public Works Department has moved into its new shop on Ridge Road and employees are ecstatic with the cleanliness, the light, the space, the sheer luxury of being in a building that was designed to house the equipment and tools to do their job the way they have always known it should be done.

Last weekend, the Town of Nederland held an open house, showing local residents and town employees the culmination of many years of visioning, planning and finally constructing the public works house.
Nederland Public Works Street Department Supervisor Monica LaSalle and Parks Department Director Nicki Dunn were particularly pleased as they gave tours through the shop.


The large bays housed the grader which was warm and dry ready and waiting for its next plunge into the snow-covered streets of Nederland. When a piece of equipment breaks, the employees fix it. “No more lying in the mud,” says Nicki. “And the new lifts have an 18,000-pound capacity so we can easily work on the trucks.”

The tool room in the old shop was so cluttered that the work space disappeared. At first the crew thought they would have to buy new tools but when they begin to clear away the layers of stacks of stuff, they found what they needed under the other tools.

They now have heat, which has been an undependable luxury for years. “It snowed inside the building,” says Nicki. “We didn’t even have hot water and it was so dark, it was hard to work. It is really nice here. We have good lighting, rooms with views and skylights.”

The meeting room/kitchen is painted a warm orange and equipped with a refrigerator, sink and microwave allowing the employees a more affordable way to do lunch.

“This atmosphere boosts camaraderie and morale,” says Monica. “We can sit and eat together, de-compress, make plans and then hit it again. There was nothing pleasing about going to the old shop.”
Two small rooms with bunk beds will allow the street crews to stay overnight, to prepare for plowing and sanding at 4 a.m. when the morning shift starts. Often, when the snow is accumulating rapidly, the plow crew has had to shovel their way out of their own driveways before heading to town. With the overnight capacity, they are ready for action, on time.

These accommodations will help get the roads cleared faster and make them safer for the school buses and commuters in the morning.

At the open house on Friday, Nederland Town Administrator Alisha Reis presented a painting to the public works department depicting their 1986 Mack Truck, which was born and raised by Boulder Truck and purchased by the town three years ago.

Monica calls the orange beast her baby Mack and says being able to park it inside makes it easier to start. It used to take 20 minutes of warming up before she could hit the streets with sand.

The shop opened in the third week of January and the employees have been reveling in the warmth and light and lack of mouse droppings. It was an accomplishment that is shared by the entire town staff, who worked hard to get the facility built.

“We are all grateful,” says Monica. “This will enable us to do better maintenance and be more organized with space for files, computers and bulletin boards.”

In addition to the interior assets, the large work yard outside has enabled the town to store materials, such as asphalt and crusher fines for the new sidewalks, as well as enabling the crew to be more efficient in their response to road works.

“This adds to our commitment to sustainability and being close to zero waste,” says Monica, as she prepared her Baby Mack for sanding the roads when the snow began falling Saturday night.

Barbara Lawlor

Barbara is a reporter for The Mountain-Ear.