Chatham Planning Board Endorses New DPW Salt Shed

By: Tim Wood

This salt shed behind the DPW building on Crowell Road will be replaced with a new $1.2 million storage facility. TIM WOOD PHOTO

CHATHAM – Photos of the trusses in the salt shed at the rear of the DPW yard on Crowell Road tell the story. The bottom edge of many are broken off, others are cracked, the result of machinery intersecting with the low height of the wooden crossbeams. The town is proposing to replace the shed with a new salt storage structure with a gambrel roof that will be 40 feet high, 10 feet more than the current structure. That's also 10 feet higher than allowed under the zoning bylaw, so it will require a variance from the zoning board. The 34,000-square-foot, 40-foot-wide by 96-foot-long building, built in the same location as the current shed, will be capable of storing 2,000 tons of salt, 800 tons more than the current shed can hold. The new building is estimated to cost $1,199,000; the town plans to use Chapter 90 state highway funds for the structure and could put the project out to bid as soon as May, if the funds are available, according to Principal Projects Planner and Operations Administrator Terry Whalen. Expenditure of Chapter 90 funds does not require town meeting approval, but the final project will be brought to the select board for endorsement before it is put out to bid, he said. Currently, salt stored in the shed has to be handled twice. Delivery trucks dump salt outside the shed and it is moved inside using a loader. That's because the height of the trusses frequently conflicts with the raised trailer beds of the delivery trucks, according to a description of the project by Tyler Cofelice, an engineer with consultant Weston and Sampson. The increased height of the new shed will allow delivery trucks to dump salt directly inside, eliminating the need to move the salt twice. The shed's sidewalls will be made of heavy duty pressure treated lumber, allowing salt to be piled against the walls to maximize storage capacity, according to Cofelice's memo. There will also be a canopy at the back of the shed which will provide additional covered storage. Last Monday he told the planning board that the current shed is “definitely in need of replacement,” with rot that allows salt to seep out the side walls, and holes in the roof that let in rain that clumps the salt and can damage equipment. Planning board members were supportive of the project in last week's pre-application session. “I think this is going to be a huge improvement,” said member Art Spruch. Satisfied with the information, board members decided they did not need a site visit or formal hearing; the only concern was to ensure that the airport commission was aware of the increase in height. The board also voted to support the request for a variance, will be heard by the zoning board of appeals on April 8 at 4 p.m.