New Digs for Light Department

Donna Lane
Visit 135 Access Rd. for Broadband customer service.
29,985 square foot
Issue Date: 
February, 2020
Article Body: 

When the superintendent of Norwood’s municipal light department, James F. Collins, Jr., joined the department, one of the things he said he thought was needed was to “get the trucks indoors,” for personnel safety, equipment longevity and faster response time. That was 1976. Today, a brand-spanking-new 29,985 square foot vehicle storage area has made this long-awaited need a reality.
The Norwood Light Department, which serves Norwood with electric, cable, high-speed internet and phone services, has consolidated the majority of its operations to 135 Access Rd. Move-in began on January 17. The only thing that will remain in the old building is the head-end broadband room – the room that houses all of the programming and equipment to service Broadband customers. The new building also centralizes the stock area for both electric light and cable needs in its 12,077 square foot warehouse. The vacated building on Central Ave. will be used by the Town for other needs.
Residents will first be pleased, with the customer service area in the new facility. It is the first place you see when you enter the building. Rows of chairs are set up in case you need to wait, and three windows will be open for making payments or handling other issues. A small conference area off of the waiting room is available for private meetings.
The footprint of the department’s new home has not changed since its former life as a tennis club turned distribution center. But the building was basically gutted and new systems installed throughout, including electrical, plumbing, heating, and air conditioning. G&R Construction of Quincy and Compass Project Management of Norwood worked with Collins and the Town to make it happen.
“There are always a few glitches in any construction project, but both were very good to work with and I wouldn’t hesitate to work with them again,” Collins said.
The second advantage of this move is that all major equipment will be safely stored and protected, a benefit that will result in quicker resolutions to outages.
“Norwood’s is the last municipal light department in the State to bring their trucks inside,” Project Manager Antonio Pina, AIA, of Compass said.
“This move will lead to faster response during inclement weather,” Collins added. During a snow storm, we used to have to shovel out the trucks before we could respond to an emergency. We won’t have to do that anymore.”
Collins said that all of the department’s employees are excited to be moving into their new home, himself included.
Each area has a modular office plan except for managers’ offices which are all located on the second floor. The second floor also has a large conference room that seats 18, as well as a state-of-the-art audio-visual and computer accessibility. Down the hall is a kitchen/break room for employees, a necessity for those who are sometimes asked to work around the clock in an emergency. And, especially interesting is the storm center, which is equipped to display the town map with outage locations from which management will be able to dispatch repair crews quickly and efficiently.
Collins said if he was to give the building a name, it would be ‘The Light Department’s Operational Center.’
“The building was designed with the future in mind, especially the next generation of equipment for broadband, phone and network services,” Collins said. “It should meet our needs for the next 50 years or beyond.”