PEPPERELL — A new safety trailer for the Department of Public Works serves as a valuable asset for Pepperell, but also represents the status of the Public Works Department in Pepperell, a town officials says.
“Everything we do is thanks to companies cutting their rates or grants, with our under staffing and tight budget, we have to get creative,” Highway Department Superintendent Peter Shattuck says.
More than two years ago, the Department lost two staff members and since then, they have experienced more budget cuts. Recent paving projects have cost the department more than they anticipated.
Their new trailer, which Shattuck estimates costs between $6,000 and $7,000, was paid for by the Massachusetts Interlocal Insurance Association. Only $600 of the cost was the Highway Department’s responsibility.
The trailer is filled with a plethora of items ranging from barrels to waders, caution tape, pylons, gloves, hard hats, goggles, spill kits, flares and many other municipal emergency response items.
According to DPW Director Ken Kalinowski, MIIA decreased the town’s insurance premium after the purchase.
At Town Hall, the trailer which was removed by the Highway Department cost $1,210, but they managed to recycle $1,538 of material.
“A $382 positive, our two departments turned that project into a cost-saving device for our tax payers,” Shattuck says.
Kalinowski, who was working in his Town Hall office during the process, commended the worker’s etiquette.
“They were not intrusive, there was minimal noise and it was quick, we are proud of our guys for that,” he says.
A close-to-$10,000 drainage survey was also done for free. By using GPS technology every drainage structure was located across town. Those structures are now plugged into a geographical information system for the town, which tracks public works systems electronically.
“As the guys pave streets this August, we are having them inspect the conditions of each basin,” Kalinowski says.
On West Street the Highway Department has been replacing a large number of the basins.
“There drainage is 100 percent better and the residents are very pleased,” Shattuck says.
The project is a collaboration between Highway Department Employees and outside contractors, as was new culvert installation on Oak Hill Street.
The $15,000 inspection and replacement of those structures, which allow fish in Gulf Brook to pass under the road, was done with the cooperation of the MA Dept. of Fisheries and Wildlife and local donors and contractors.
Fisheries and Wildlife workers were on site, placing rocks and were essentially “down in the hole, doing landscaping for fish,” says Kalinowski. Shattuck says Walsh Bros. provided an excavator for a rock-bottom price.
“They couldn’t have been more accommodating and they had water flowing after three days,” said Kalinowski.
Shattuck said Highway Department workers who were assisting were routinely called off the projects to help elsewhere, like taking care of downed trees or getting paving projects set up.
The Cemetery Department’s new, black truck is another telling example as it comes back from one job, dropping off shovels and loading up with detour barrels, then heads out for the next project.
“We’re still dealing with projects and emergencies in a timely fashion despite being understaffed and on a tight budget,” Shattuck says.
“The other day I saw someone mowing around a fire hydrant on his frontage,” Kalinowski says.
“I am glad people are doing that, although small things like that are our responsibility, we need to be creative in this day and age.”