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Work begins on city fleet service center

Residents of Chief Garry Park neighborhood could be forgiven for not noticing construction workers breaking ground on the city of Spokane’s Nelson Service Center.

Soon enough, however, the 57,500-square-foot home of the city’s fleet will be hard to ignore.

When complete, the center will repair and maintain most of the city’s vehicle fleet, which currently is done at three locations. The center will have a compressed natural gas fueling facility for the city’s solid waste fleet, and conversion of the fleet from diesel fuel will begin when the center opens in fall 2015. When the conversion is complete, the city anticipates saving $7 million in fuel cost over the course of 10 years.

The project is the first that the city designed and built itself, and it got approval from the state to do so just a year ago. Although the city identified a need for a consolidated fleet center as early as 1983, it was relatively recently that the city realized it could fund the project by using reserves from the solid waste department, and use the savings from operational efficiencies to pay for the project within 12 years, said city utilities chief Rick Romero.

Work on the $14 million complex at a city-owned, 32-acre plot has just begun in this quiet part of town, where newish duplexes with well-tended lawns sit next to worn-down houses and wild fruit trees.

A recent afternoon illustrated why this area is a logical choice for a fleet headquarters – the streets were empty and the play structures in Stone Street Park unpopulated. In the distance, only the old Centennial Mills-ADM railway millworks stood sentry.

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