FOLEY – Work is underway on Foley’s $17-million Public Works Department campus that will expand city services to meet growing needs for the next 30 or more years.

The new facility will include modern technology with more meeting and training facilities, Mayor Ralph Hellmich said at a groundbreaking ceremony for the center Monday, Dec. 4..

“We’re putting a lot of effort into this campus,” Hellmich said. “Our old campus was built in 1991. It’s outlived its purpose. We have outgrown it. We now have 78 employees that will inhabit this new campus which we hope to complete by next December.”

He said the new campus will cover 14 acres and will house all four Public Works departments:  Street, Commercial and Residential Sanitation, Mechanics Shop and Administration.

The mayor said the new center will allow the department to expand its services.

“We’re going to be designing some new features,” Hellmich said. “It will have a state-of-the-art mechanic shop that can work on any city vehicle. It will be a safe place to work. It will be a large area. Right now, the one we have is very small.”

The campus will also provide a space that will protect employees and equipment during emergencies.

“These will all be state-of-the art buildings,”: Hellmich said. “These buildings will be hurricane rated. They will have generators, so there will be safe places for our workers to stay.”

The campus will also double the department’s fuel capacity. The new site will have storage for  20,000 gallons of both gasoline and diesel fuel. The new facility will also provide more covered storage space as well as a more resilient site to protect vehicles and other equipment during hurricanes.

The current Public Works building was built more than 30 years ago. At that time, the city’s population was about 5,000, according to census reports. Foley now has more than 25,000 residents.

The new site is located at the southeast corner of the intersection of North Poplar Street and East Section Avenue.