By SUE SUCHYTA
Sunday Times Newspapers
MELVINDALE – Department of Public Works Director Larrie Ordus updated city officials Dec. 18 on plans for a new transformer for police and fire officials, as well as cost-saving DPW equipment investments.
Ordus said the current transformer is 15 or more years old, and has experienced a brownout, and recently began to smoke and burn.
Ordus said he is looking at prices to replace the transformer switch, but the transformer has other issues, and he doesn’t want to waste money on a new switch for the old transformer when it needs replacement.
City Attorney Lawrence Coogan said replacing the transformer allows for an exception to the bidding process because it is considered an emergency situation.
“I believe it is an emergency situation because it involves the police and fire, and city hall,” Coogan said. “If the Fire Department loses its power, the vehicles can’t get out.”
Coogan mentioned the need for reliable power for the first responders who provide safety services for the community.
“We are going to make sure we get this done to my satisfaction,” Ordus said. “I am going to make sure that when I make this call, it will be the right call in my mind.”
Ordus said a new transformer would cost $75,000 at the most. The city council subsequently approved a motion to allow Ordus to spend up to $75,000 for a new switch and transformer to provide power for the police and fire station.
Currently the police and fire station have separate generators to provide power. The fire station generator runs off natural gas, and the police station generator runs off fuel.
“We have enough power if this went out, but we don’t want to run on emergency power,” Ordus said.
Ordus also received city council approval for a Hitachi compact excavator and a trailer for transport, to be paid for through the city’s water fund. The excavator will be used for the lead service line replacement program, which Ordus said will save the city money.
Mayor Wheeler Marsee said the excavator will allow the DPW to do a lot of work in-house.
“This equipment will help on water main breaks, these (lead service) lines, all of it,” Marsee said.
Ordus also received permission from the city council to modify a former fire rescue truck owned by the city to serve as a hydraulic truck for the DPW.
“It is something we were looking for, and this is better than I would have thought,” Ordus said. “I looked at the gas, and I looked at the feasibility of putting a hydraulic unit on that one, with a couple of wheels, so that we can run our pump system off that.”
Ordus said it would cost $11,000 to install the pump system, which the DPW already owns, on the former rescue truck. The new hydraulic truck he was looking to purchase could have cost the city up to $90,000, he said.
“This will save the city a lot, and will work out really well,” City Councilman Stan Filipowski said.
Ordus credited the fire department for keeping the rescue truck in such good shape.
“This is going to make a world of difference when we are out there on a main break, or any kind of water,” he said.
Ordus said the hydraulic system will allow them to run pumps, jackhammers and other equipment.