(Seguin) -- The city of Seguin is celebrating its recent upgrade -- an upgrade designed to keep the lights on and the water running. The city recently held a ribbon cutting for its new Utilities Operation Center constructed at 3027 N. Austin St. The grand opening ceremony was held for the new 16,000 square foot building designed for not only electric and water but also wastewater and information technology.
When comparing the new building to the old facility located at the Guadalupe County Fairgrounds, Seguin Mayor Don Keil says the new operation center is light years ahead of where they used to be.
"For those of you who were never at the old place -- what we used to do to try to serve people from -- it was very very primitive. It was a very difficult place to operate in. We had very valuable pieces of equipment sitting in the dirt and the dust. and poles were scattered all over the place because there was no real way to keep them together and to do things in a safe and effective way. So we needed -- with our growth and with a sophistication of life today in this world, we knew we had to come to a better place to grown. As you look around here today, you'll see that we've got an incredible facility and also very proud of the way that it is here today," said Keil.
Assistant City Manager Rick Cortes says the $11 million UOC has been more than five years in the making. In Oct. 2012, the Seguin City Council authorized a review of electric, utility services and water/wastewater departmental needs including the potential need for a new facility and to take a look at possible solutions. Based on that review, it became apparent the city would need to invest in this now updated, high-tech facility which offers plenty of room to grow in order to meet the needs of the growing community and fast changing technology.
"For the public itself, it is efficiencies. We have areas now that we can provide a better service and be more efficient and really a lot safer. As the mayor indicated earlier, we used to have our poles all in just big piles. We had different size poles for our electrical department. So now if you go out there, you'll see pole racks and all the poles separated by size and these things are heavy. So whenever they were in a big pile, it's like match sticks -- you would just pull one out and hopefully, they wouldn't come tumbling down. So we're very fortunate nobody ever got hurt. So this is really a good way to do it. This is the way you should be doing it. So it's just good technology and it's good for the employees," said Cortes.
Ensuring effective utilities is the new utility dispatch center. The center now includes a daily operations screen -- a screen that highlights the city map with each service call and even offering a photo of the actual crew doing the work.
James Vasser, IT manager for the city of Seguin, says the information and technology department welcomes its new home. He says there's no comparing the two work sites.
"Well we have a lot more space. Before, we just had two offices and one little general work area. Now we have three offices and a much larger work area and a much larger server around here too. So, we have room to grow, room to store things. So, we have a storage room now. We didn't before. So that certainly helps out and it gives us a nicer feeling here not to be so cramped up in one little tiny spot. We can relax a little bit and take down on the stress. We just had a closet area to work in and then two small offices. We've grown from one employee, myself 10 years ago to seven now. In just 10 years, we've grown to seven associates. It's a very fast growth. Everything is being digitalized now, so we just have more and more coming our way," said Vasser.
Cortes says the city is proud to offer the new building. He says it provides staff an environment that is conducive to productivity while placing a high emphasis on utility reliability.
"We're set until 30-40-50 years from now. We will not outgrow with the service center that we have now. With regards to that, we're set for a long time. The building itself is also very conducive to meetings and productivity. We met here with CPS energy, we met here with Niagara, with Minigrip -- we met and its just very conducive. You couldn't have had those meetings in the previous facility, because first of all, there was no space. You couldn't fit everybody in there. We had to try to find locations just to have meetings. We're even having to hold meetings here now in the meantime, until hopefully, we can get our new development center up and running. That'll be our next phase so we're having meetings here now and just the environment itself is very conducive to a very productive meeting," said Cortes.
In addition to the square footage for office space, the building includes a full locker room and breakroom plus a 35,000 square foot state-of-the-art warehouse for materials and supplies.
A large dock off the warehouse also allows for easy loading and unloading of materials onto trucks and equipment. An additional 11 acre site on the property also exist to house utility pole racks and concrete bins for additional material storage.