Madison Cuts Ribbon on Nakoosa Trail, Ushering In New Era at Fleet
Welcome to Nakoosa Trail, the brand new headquarters for the City of Madison Fleet Division. My name is Mahanth Joishy, and I am the Fleet Superintendent. I get to spend most of my waking hours in this building behind us, without having to pay a single dollar in rent. My division is responsible for purchasing and maintaining about 1,400 equipment assets on behalf of the City and for many more years, this building will be the base for this critical operation. On a 50-75 year timeline, this building could be operational until the year 2095- and one of the little kids here today will probably be sitting in my chair and doing my job through a virtual reality headset or brain microchips (with salsa) or something. Which is why we are dedicating a plaque to commemorate the event for posterity today in the real physical world while we can.
Over 1,000 people were involved for 9 years from planning to implementation of this $33 million construction project, led by City Engineering and a large community of vendors. I’d especially like to point out Architect Jim Whitney and Construction Project Manager Dave Schaller, two names I hope you will keep hearing today, because we cannot emphasize their amazing work enough in guiding this complex process. I know little to nothing about construction, but I know this is a sweet garage. I am not ashamed to say that Jim is my hero for leading the creation of this magnificent structure over many years.
Now instead of rehashing what Fleet has achieved in the last few years, I am today simply laying out for you our madly ambitious goal of operating 100% of our transport on 100% Wisconsin biodiesel and 100% renewable electricity by this decade, an extremely aggressive and challenging plan that no large North American city is anywhere close to achieving, though many are working hard on. Madison will do this while also running the greenest facilities, and appropriately, this garage is already world-class in green tech, which you will hear more about from Engineering shortly and get to see for yourself afterward. On both fleet and facility fronts, Madison is ahead of the curve already and punching way above our weight. I welcome the competition from anywhere, but I am also obligated to tell you: GOOD LUCK. YOU ARE GONNA NEED IT.
Next I’d like to recognize the Fleet team, who I would stack up against any public or private sector fleet in the country. We have a fine group of skilled and dedicated technicians, supervision, and administrators that not only physically came into work throughout a raging pandemic, not only kept the vehicles and equipment running smoothly for our frontline customer agencies, but also managed the division’s complicated construction needs, and then managed the complex move into Nakoosa Trail, which involved transferring personnel, parts, and shop equipment from 4 other buildings into this one, all without a break in service for our customers for a single minute. Fueling and inspections and repairs and new vehicle intake and auto auction never stopped.
One of the reasons why our team is so unique and special is that we can switch gears to new projects we have never done before, without impacting our core service levels. So for the last several months I told my folks- OK, good job with this very difficult and unprecedented move, but now it’s time to plan not only a little ribbon cutting for this one division, but a big celebration of ALL OF MADISON CITY GOVERNMENT to coincide with the pandemic retreating in Dane County. We have beside us today the Mayor’s Office, Firefighters with fire trucks including the first-ever operational electric fire truck in all of North America, police officers from K9 and Mounted Patrol, Engineering staff who worked on this building, Alders, Metro presenting their first-ever electric bus, Clerk’s Office doing a mock election, the Madison Vision Zero steering team, the Madison Multicultural Affairs and Women’s Initiatives Committees, and representatives and retirees from most of our sister agencies. I’d like a round of applause for my colleagues around #TeamCity who I am proud to stand next to, in good times and bad, now and into the future.
So, who is ready for a big party??? I know after the year that we’ve all been through, I sure am. We are going to have educational tours, local food carts, test drives of electric vehicles including Tesla and the Ford Mustang Mach E and e-bikes, displays of the Proterra electric bus, the Pierce electric fire truck, an antique 1959 Madison fire truck, a hackathon with competing teams of smart Madison people dedicated to increasing EV penetration in our society, and local musicians. PLEASE TIP THE MUSICIANS IF YOU CAN BY THE WAY.
Fleet has many outstanding partners who are attending tonight, and I can’t mention them all but would like to shout out a few: Madison Gas & Electric and Alliant Energy who have helped our parabolic rise in fleet electrification, Renewable Energy Group which has been our steady sustainable biodiesel producer out of DeForest, Kathy Kuntz of Dane County, the amazing women-led team at Wisconsin Clean Cities, Wisconsin-based Pierce and Reliant fire apparatus, and Wisconsin-based C.D. Smith who was the lead contractor for this garage, and our good friends from academia including Madison Metropolitan School District and Madison College, and a number of state agencies including the Department of Administration, UW-Madison, Department of Motor Vehicles, Office of Energy Innovation, and Sustainability.
Finally, thank you to my outstanding deputies, Tyson Roessler and Randy Koch who oversaw this construction project for Fleet, and a shout out to Rachel Darken who is the overall coordinator of today’s event for Fleet and has squeezed this in amongst all her other important duties. I think Randy has his teenage daughter “volunteering” for us today- so thanks Lexi Koch, we appreciate it. Fleet is like a big family- mildly dysfunctional at times, but always still a family.
Thank you to Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway for your ongoing support of all Fleet initiatives. Thank you to former Mayor Paul Soglin and Deputy Mayor Katie Crawley for joining us tonight, and more importantly, for bringing me to Madison in 2017. Finally our plaque dedication dedicates the memory of my predecessor Bill Vandenbrook, who worked for Fleet from 1978-2017, including 26 years as Superintendent. We are glad his wife Joanie was able to join us today.
OK, enough from me, I can talk for hours but that’s not what any of us want, it’s time to hand it over to Hannah Mohelnitzky, who is the Public Information Officer for City Engineering, a former television reporter including at NBC-15, and also an integral part of today’s event. Thank you and take us away Hannah!
Remarks by Mahanth S. Joishy, Fleet Superintendent, at Ribbon Cutting Ceremony 6/22/21