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Auburn City Council approves upgrades to recreation facilities

<p>Auburn's City Council meets in the City Council Chamber at 141 N. Ross St. on May 4, 2021.</p>

Auburn's City Council meets in the City Council Chamber at 141 N. Ross St. on May 4, 2021.

On Tuesday, the Auburn City Council approved the use of $579,000 of American Rescue Plan funding to install air conditioning units at the Brown Recreation Center and the Boykin Community Center gymnasiums.

The City Council also unanimously approved the Environmental Services Department's motion to purchase 624 96-gallon garbage carts and 624 96-gallon recycling carts from Toter, LLC. for just under $79,000 in total.

The installation of the air conditioning units, which will be performed by Bradley Heating & Plumbing, are the most recently announced improvements to recreational facilities around Auburn. These improvements come just after the opening of a health clinic at the Boykin Community Center.

Based on estimates provided by Engineering Services Director Alison Frazier, the process to source all the units necessary for the project will take roughly six months. 

Once the units are sourced, the contract with Bradley will then be executed and a more detailed timeline will be available, although Frazier believed the construction process will take between 30 to 60 days.

Council members, many of whom have had extensive interactions with both facilities, expressed gratitude towards the project.

“Anyone who voted at Boykin certainly appreciates this,” Ward 2 Councilman Kelley Griswold said.

However, not all of the city’s recreational facilities are receiving such upgrades, and Ward 5 Councilman Sonny Moreman highlighted that fact before the council voted on the measure.

“We did part of the candidate forum at Dean Road, and many of us sweated buckets,” Moreman said. “So I think that the Dean Road system will be designed at a later date and addressed at a later date. And it looks like there’s money left in the pot.”

According to City Manager Megan McGowen Crouch, air conditioning upgrades at the facility at Dean Road Recreation Center will indeed be addressed in the future, although she did not provide a timeline for doing so.

“We budgeted for all three, but what happened was, initially, we were looking at a plan to move forward with just two before we learned we were able to use American Rescue Plan money for this,” Crouch said.

Crouch also added that a challenge with the Dean Road facility will require an entirely separate design, bidding and material procurement process. 

That separate process will most certainly push the Dean Road completion date well behind the targeted summer 2023 completion date of the Brown and Boykin facilities.

This authorization aimed to replace existing garbage carts that required routine maintenance and repairs as well as to fulfill an increase in demand for recycling services.

The new waste collection carts will come with a 12-year warranty on the body and a 10-year warranty on all other components.

According to Environmental Services Director Catrina Cook, the decision to switch to the Toter was made after a number of citizen complaints regarding the durability of carts currently used.

“When we checked around in other cities,” Cook said, “they [Toter] seem to have a better product so there’s less complaints regarding the durability of them, so that’s what we’re working with.”

Cook mentioned that the City of Auburn has used Toter in the past and that the sheer volume of waste collection was a primary consideration in addition to the citizen complaints.

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“We are going by and servicing each home 52 times a year and making all of those stops so we want to make sure we get a quality product,” Cook said.

Griswold attested to the current carts’ lack of durability and the impact that can have on Auburn residents.

“I know the one I had delivered for recycling broke within a week, and I just fixed it myself,” Griswold said.

Daniel Schmidt | Assistant News Editor

Daniel Schmidt, senior in journalism, is the assistant news editor for the Auburn Plainsman. 

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