Mesa County moves
Mesa County has been busy with construction and real estate projects in the last several years, taking advantage of reduced construction costs and lower prices.
The county opened the Mesa County Central Services facility near First Street and Main Street on South Spruce Street in January, moving and consolidating several county facilities that were in separate buildings.
The county also built a campus in Whitewater off 31 Road for fleet maintenance, storage and repair facilities as well as road and bridge equipment and facilities and the animal control department, which was the first department to move out to Whitewater two years ago.
“It all boils down to customer service,” said Donna Ross, regional and shared services director for Mesa County. With multiple departments in one location at the central services facility, residents who visit can find the planning and engineering departments as well as building inspection, the motor vehicle office, the elections office, the supplemental food program and the community food bank.
The county also determined that it could achieve significant savings by consolidating departments into a centralized location. In addition to several vacant properties that the county is now able to sell, the county also leased space for some of the departments that have found a home at the central services facility. The total savings from the leased property is $260,000 annually.
Although the county had talked about consolidation as early as 2005, it didn’t make financial sense when prices were high. Dropping prices and a slower economy meant the county could acquire the 53,000-square foot building on Spruce, which had been vacant for several years, at a reduced rate. The county also used Chamberlain Architects and FCI Construction in the building process, creating a small bit of economic development at a time when local building projects were slow.
“The recession helped make the purchase more financially viable,” said Jessica Peterson, public relations director for Mesa County. “If you’re going to do these types of projects anyway, do it when it doesn’t cost as much.”
The central services facility was built with several unique features designed to save energy, such as more natural light to cut down on the amount of electric lights needed, an open concept for better ventilation, high efficiency windows and motion sensors to minimize water usage.
In Whitewater, the county owns 1,800 acres encompassing the landfill and a buffer zone. The decision was made to create a campus for various county facilities that wouldn’t be negatively impacted by proximity to the landfill. The 31 Road campus, as it’s called by county officials, provides a 40-acre space for the vehicle maintenance shops, as well as the animal control department. Although animal control moved in about two years ago, the large vehicle maintenance shop has only been open a few weeks in the new location.
The county began listing the properties that would be vacant and available for sale a year ago. At this point, one of the county parcels on South Ninth Street has been sold. There are still three other parcels on South Ninth available, as well as industrial properties on Noland Avenue and C 1/2 Road and the old county office space at 750 Main St. The asking price for all of the county’s listed properties comes to more than $4.8 million dollars.
As part of an incentive to buyers, the county would be willing to perform some of the pre-planning work that must be done in order to rehabilitate an older facility for the appropriate new buyer.
“We’re just starting to talk about it,” said Stacey Mascarenas with Mesa County, who added that it would be part of a package offered to companies which are considering expansion in Mesa County.
With its expansion into Whitewater and completion of the central services facility, Mesa County is implementing innovative and conscientious ways to use county lands and county funds.