After putting up with downtown sinkholes for almost half a decade, Cartersville Gas System Director Michael Hill said he can certainly appreciate the department’s new digs off Old Mill Road.
“Us having been in the old firehouse for the last four and a half years, gosh, this place is just amazing,” he said at a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the facility held last week. “The first couple of weeks coming here to work in the morning, it was like my truck was wanting to go the other way, but it’s learned a way and it’s just a pleasure to be coming here to work every day.”
Construction on the project began in April 2018 and wrapped up March 2019. Per City documents, the 155 Old Mill Road facility consists of well over 30,000 feet of administrative offices, storage and stock rooms and warehouse-style garage space, complete with a nearly 3,000-square-foot welding shop.
The facility, which had an estimated total project cost of about $10 million, sits on about 22 acres, with a roughly five-acre pond encircled by a perimeter walking trail.
“We’ve got nothing but compliments on it,” said Cartersville Mayor Matt Santini. “What a great addition to our city, and what a great addition to this part of Cartersville — it’s a very visible part, and it’s a beautiful building that’s going to serve the City well for the next 50 years or so.”
At a Cartersville-Bartow County Chamber of Commerce event last year, Santini said the City approached the facility with a mindset more akin to a private industry than a municipal mentality.
"We went through the planning and development process and took a council vote on it, but we also included the neighborhoods," he said. "We did take extra time in meeting with the residents to at least make sure they were onboard and understood what we were going to be doing ... by and large, people were included, they were listened to and they had input."
The facility also serves as a fueling station for City vehicles, with Santini saying it predominantly services the local police fleet.
Atlanta-headquartered Pond and Co. served as the project architect, while Balfour Beatty provided general contractor services.
“It’s a great place for us to continue to serve our community, our customers and our citizens that are here,” said Cartersville City Manager Tamara Brock. “And we know that there will be good things that come out of this building for years to come.”
She recognized Dan Porta, Cartersville’s assistant city manager, as the man responsible for spearheading the project.
“It was a very challenging and frustrating job dealing with sinkholes and a new building all at the same time,” she said. “But he did an excellent job, and we’re very thankful.”
She said the new facility represents not only a major long-term investment for the local government, but one for its residents as well.
“When the City builds a building, we stay,” she said. “We don’t move every couple of years, so this is something for us to be proud about, and we hope our community is proud to see this building every day as they pass it.”