At a special meeting on Dec. 10, the Alliance City Council voted to move forward with a plan to expand the Public Works facility and to sell property located at 1200 Flack Avenue, purchased in 2018 for $320,000, which was meant to house multiple city agencies under one roof.

The property, which formerly housed Bomgaars, was purchased with the needs of the Alliance’s Transit and Parks departments in mind. However, the Alliance City Council members tasked City Manager Jeff Sprock with looking into other options, such as expanding current facilities.

“The Council purchased 1200 Flack Avenue with the intent of turning it into a transit barn and parks maintenance facility,” said Sprock. “When I got here, I was confronted with an engineering study that said it was going to cost $1.1 to $1.4 million to renovate that space so that it would be usable for those purposes. A large portion of the cost was converting it from a retail space into a commercial storage space for parks equipment and the seven different transit vehicles that we have.”

Sprock said that if the city were to move forward with converting the building, there would be costly challenges it would face.

“It turns out that the building has four-inch concrete there that doesn’t have any rebar, and the building has interior pillars, so it’s not supported on the exterior like most steel buildings you use for a space like that,” Sprock said. “So, they were going to have to rip out the concrete floor, put in a new concrete floor and slope it and put in extra drains, put in some additional office space and bathrooms, redo the roof—just a lot of improvements needed to be done in order to make that function.”

Before he took on the role of being Alliance’s City Manager, Sprock said the city moved transit away from the Culture and Leisure Department to Public Works.

“One of the things that the Public Works Director, and other staff, suggested was, instead of spending all this money on the Bomgaar’s building, maybe we should do an expansion of the Public Works facility. There’s a lot of additional need for space for electric, water, sewer, transit, then we could move the streets department, which is under Public Works, so that everything that is under Public Works, except for the landfill, could be in one building. Council had me look into that option.”

Sprock noted that in 2013, when the city took over transit from Box Butte County, the initial plan was to build a bus barn on Big Horn Avenue, which was another option he was asked to research.

“They had done a bunch of paperwork and environmental reviews and things like that in order to get the 80/20, because when you build transit space, the federal and state government will pay for 80 percent of the cost to build it, so it’s a tremendous opportunity, you just have to jump through a lot of hoops to do that,” Sprock said.

With three options before city council, they hosted a special meeting to determine their course of action. Sprock said city staff recommended the expansion of the Public Works building to promote efficiency.

The council members voted 3-1 in favor of the expansion, with Council Member Brian Mischnick voting against the measure and Council Member Earl Jones not in attendance of the meeting. The council members then voted unanimously to sell the former Bomgaars building.

Sprock said the city is in a good position to take on a project like this, citing the city’s low debt and high reserves. Sprock said the staff are going to review their needs to incorporate into the plan to expand.

“They’re going to nail down their square footage, nail down where they’re going to expand, then we’re going to approach an engineering firm to come up with construction drawings for it and an estimated cost, then run it by council to get approval,” said Sprock.

Also at the meeting, the council approved an amended agreement with Western Nebraska Community College which will increase the amount of rent that the city receives from leasing the space at the Alliance Public Library/Learning Center and provide a room to lease by the Nebraska Department of Labor.

“These are two big wins for the city,” Sprock said.

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