Second Day at APWA

The second day of the APWA 2007 conference started out with a general session given by Jeff Salz – a man who has spent his life traveling all over the world on adventures. He talked of change and how we can no longer continue to approach each day with the tried and true. Instead we need to be open to change. He also stressed the importance of service to our fellow man.

After the general session, I had the difficult task of choosing which educational session to attend. There have seemed to be so many interesting ones this year that are relevant to many of the issues we all are dealing with. Eventually I chose to go to the one dealing with “smart growth” and creating livable communities. Two gentlemen spoke about the neo-traditional subdivisions that are developing in Colorado. We saw examples where roadways are only 16 to 20 feet wide. All I could think of was how upset our fire chief would be – he is worried about the old 24-foot-wide roads we have that were built in the early 1900s.

My main worry about these new developments is that all of the infrastructure is set up to be owned and maintained by the development and the homeowner’s association. I just know that eventually the people would get fed up with taking care of their own infrastructure and would approach their alderman and the city about giving it all to the city. And I know from past experience with certain types of politicians that there would be the chance that the city would take ownership. Some members of the audience said that they had these types of developments and that their city had been approached to take back ownership, but they had required all improvements to be built to city standards, and they had set up a special taxing district to pay for this. One of the speakers had said in his case, the city he dealt with refused to take on ownership when this happened unless the development rebuilt everything to city standards. I think the possibility of taking on the ownership of the infrastructure within these types of developments at some future date is important to keep in mind when passing related ordinances.

The next session I attended covered fleet operations. The speaker, Prab Rao, discussed methods and procedures that can be established to make your fleet department more efficient and accountable.

The third session presented three public works facilities that had been built in Illinois. The architect for each and representatives from these agencies discussed important features that were incorporated in each building. The speakers emphasized the following points when designing a new facility:

  • Consolidate everything
  • Build a modern equipment maintenance facility
  • Replace chaos with order
  • Consider your employees
  • Enclose your vehicle storage
  • Be a good neighbor
  • Play it safe

The final session of the day was given by Aarvid Veidmark, the owner of Specialized Services Company – an Arizona-based contractor specializing in trenchless technology. He presented the different methods used to install underground systems and discussed what factors must be considered when choosing the right method of installation.