Silverthorne town officials celebrate completion of $8.6 million public works building

John Schuller, Silverthorne’s fleet manager, looks over one of the town’s snowplows that’s been hoisted up on lifts at the town’s new Public Works building on Wednesday. In addition to giving the town enough space to house its biggest vehicles indoors, there’s a plethora of other additions at the facility off Highway 6 in northern Silverthorne that the town’s mechanics say they will enjoy greatly.
Eli Pace /

The people who keep Silverthorne running, quite literally, have far fewer puzzles and problems on their hands with the completion of a new $8.6 million public works building in the Cottonwood subdivision.

Charged with keeping Silverthorne’s machines and fleet of vehicles operational — everything from its lawnmowers and police cruisers to street sweepers — the town’s mechanics will no longer have to arrive at 3:30 a.m. on a winter day to clear snow, de-ice and warm up the town’s snowplows before they head out. They shouldn’t have to worry about diesel fuel gelling up in sub-zero temperatures, or even the raccoons that have been getting into engine compartments and causing damage, which has all happened to vehicles previously being stored outside because there was no room inside.

“It is a much-needed facility that will serve the town and our residents well for many years to come,” said Mayor Ann Marie Sandquist during a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the new facility earlier this month. “Our public works staff has been waiting patiently for this project to come to fruition.”

Over a decade in the making, the new building off of Highway 6, on the northern end of town, will house the public work’s utilities department and its fleet maintenance department, while also allowing for future expansion of public works as the town continues to grow. Other operations will remain at the old public works building at 264 Brian Ave.

The town’s mechanics might often go unnoticed, especially when they do their job well, but the importance of Silverthorne’s fleet vehicles and the people who keep them going can’t be overstated, said Silverthorne Public Works director Tom Daugherty.

“If we didn’t have (the fleet), we would not be able to function as a town,” he said. “We got to have our equipment. We got to have the tools to do our job. If we can’t take care of our tools, we can’t do our job.”

And what a new tool they have in the Cottonwood building, on which construction began in October 2017 after the town was awarded a $1 million grant for the facility from the Colorado Department of Local Affairs. Another half-million dollars came from the Summit Sky Ranch housing development, part of an existing deal between the town and the developer that allowed the housing project on the northern end of town.

“There’s an increase in need for us to provide services on those roads, and they’re paying their share,” Daugherty said of the agreement, adding that with it and the grant, Silverthorne didn’t have to take on any new debt for the facility.

“None. It’s paid for,” he said, adding that in addition to about three times the storage space, better tools across the board and a host of other upgrades, the way the project was financed was just one more “good thing” for the town.

For J.D. Docheff, a fleet maintenance mechanic who’s been with Silverthorne for over a year now, the new building is a welcome addition in his life.

Ask the young man what’s the biggest difference between the new facility and the old one at 264 Brian Ave., and he sums it up in one word: “Everything.”

“It’s far more advanced in every aspect,” Docheff said without hesitation. “It’s a lot more efficient, cleaner, more organized, safer and more secure.”

The extra space isn’t just nice; it’s a real game-changer for the public works employees and the fleet mechanics, said John Schuller, the town’s fleet manager.

“You know what it’s like with your car when it’s frozen, takes a long time to warm up and get it de-iced,” Schuller said. “It makes a huge difference if you can get in it and it’s warm and clear of snow as far as response time. It’s better for the vehicle, too.”

At the facility on Brian Avenue, Schuller expalined, his mechanics had so little room to work that they had to park trucks as close as they could against one wall just to pull tires off the opposite side. To get all four, they’d have to repark the truck against the other wall.

Now, Schuller said they have all the room they need to quickly lift a fully loaded plow. Along with a host of new hoists, lifts and overhead cranes, they also have a specifically designed welding station, an oil and lube room, and much more, all at their disposal. The industrial-sized wash bay, for example, allows them to pull in a dumptruck, fully extend the loader and easily wash away any ice or dirt that amassed there.

In Docheff’s opinion, the money the town paid for the new facility was well spent and should help protect Silverthorne’s investments, as some of the town’s most expensive vehicles — like its road graders and snowplows — can run upwards of a quarter-million dollars or more.

For the folks working in the utilities department, Daugherty said they too will enjoy the new building, as they’re taking over some new office space there. That too is a much welcome change, because some utilities employees actually had to take turns sharing desks and computers because space was so tight, Daugherty said.

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