MANATEE -- Construction could begin as soon as December on a new Manatee County transit fleet facility in the Tallevast area, officials said Friday.
The new 116,000-square-foot complex is slated to be built at the northwest corner of the intersection at U.S. 301 and Tallevast Road.
In 2012, county commissioners OK'd purchase of the 37.71-acre site from The Forum LLC for $4.52 million, according to county documents.
A neighborhood group remains opposed to the project, fearing fumes from the vehicles and aggravated traffic congestion will plague their community, which has suffered through serious contamination from the former American Beryllium Co. plant at 1600 Tallevast Road.
Groundwater at the transit fleet facility site, at 2411 Tallevast Road, remains contaminated with hazardous substances, and monitoring wells there are part of a formal clean-up program, officials said.
Grant money from the Federal Transit Administration is expected to pay for the $15.9 million cost of design and construction for the state-of-the-art facility, officials said.
The campus is scheduled to include an office building, a maintenance building, a fuel depot, a truck wash station and a logistics building, according to Nick Azzara, the county's information outreach manager.
JNZ Pond has been selected for
architectural/engineering services, and the county has chosen Willis A. Smith Construction Inc. of Lakewood Ranch as its contractor, county documents said.
Construction is expected to take an estimated 16 months, Azzara said.
The new complex will replace the current depot at 1108 26th Ave. E., which dates to 1961 and is too small, according to Michael DiPinto, the county's project manager.
"It's going to be a nice-looking facility," he said. "The county's going to be very proud of it."
The building will be architecturally pleasing, he added, noting it "will not be a standard cookie-cutter metal building."
"There's going to be lots of natural light, and we will, at some point, add solar panels to the roof, although it won't be self-supporting, but at least we'll be able to adjust energy costs for the building," he said.
The garage will feature two stories, with a mezzanine above the garage bay area for parts storage, DiPinto said.
"We will have parking for buses, fuel facilities, both diesel and gas, and eventually for compressed natural gas," he said.
Among the vehicles at the current depot Friday were Manatee County Area Transit buses, Anna Maria Island wheeled trolleys, ambulances, tractors, bulldozers, sheriff's vehicles, boats, trailers, golf carts, vans and mowers.
The potential fumes and traffic snarls posed by all the vehicles that will use the facility trouble Laura Ward, president of the nonprofit organization called Family Oriented Community United Strong, based in Tallevast.
"We spoke out at the proposed placement of the depot there when it first came up," she said. "We're not happy about that, it's not going to be good for the community."
She said her neighborhood had already been impacted by enough negativity, adding, "We can't even imagine what it's going to be like.
"It is not a good thing for this community," she said.
The facility is not being constructed on the actual site where the former American Beryllium Co. plant was located, and therefore there is no soil contamination related to it, said Ana Gibbs, external affairs manager for the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.
However, there are groundwater monitoring wells on site related to the groundwater plume, she said.
"Those will remain on site for future groundwater sampling," she said.
Sara Kennedy, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7031. Follow her on Twitter @sarawrites.