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October 19, 2018
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City of Cotati

Damien O'Bid
What is Public Works?
September 28, 2018

Your Public Works Department are the folks responsible for planning, construction and maintenance of all public infrastructure in Cotati.  This includes streets, parks, city buildings, storm drains and the water and sewer system (and sometimes sheep).  This work is done by a field crew of five people that you always see working around town in their bright orange shirts.  Thanks to your support of Measure G, our local sales tax, the city has also added a sixth maintenance worker position to further improve maintenance and field services.  

In addition to the maintenance worker position, the city council has also continued to prioritize road maintenance, including $2.3 million budgeted for street paving this year.  To put this into context, the paving budget represents 36 percent of all General Fund expenditures this year.  This enormous commitment of resources illustrates both the importance of this to the city council and also the fact that there is a lot of work ahead of us to fix all of the roads in our city, with current costs at $1.3 million per mile.  To continue the systematical repair of all of our streets and simultaneous improvement of parks and other infrastructure, the continued support of Measure G and economic development are critical.  

On the field operations side of things, one of the most visible (and certainly the loudest) tools that the field crew uses is called a “Vacuum Truck”.  Or, if you want to impress your friends, you can use Public Works lingo and talk like an expert about the “vac” truck.  If you haven’t seen the vac truck around town, this is basically like your home shop vac, but supersized to safely excavate utilities or clean out the sewers.  Of course, neither is recommended with your home shop vac, as filling it with dirt or sewage is certainly not a best practice and will most likely seriously void your warranty.  However, in the public works world, it is immensely useful.  In fact, it’s so powerful, you need to be careful that you don’t get the vacuum tube too close to lawn accoutrements, such as pink flamingos, slip-and-slides, or lawn gnomes.  Let’s just say that it’s not pretty and the owners rarely want them back.  It’s for this very reason that we sometimes get parental requests to “accidently” suck up a teenagers’ cell phone or video game console.

Public Works has also been busy working on the park master plan, which will set funding priorities for our parks for at least the next five years.  In the series of five public workshops and online polls we held this summer, we got a lot of great ideas for exciting improvements, big and small, throughout the city parks.  Unfortunately, one thing that you won’t see in parks any more are steel carousels or steel slides.  If you grew up in the 1970’s, you will remember burning your legs on the slides and being knocked unconscious by the steel carousels if you missed the grab bar.  Apparently, we are told that is not safe.  However, if you want to contribute ideas about the future of our parks, there will be more meetings this fall to discuss the draft park master plan.  When complete, the improvements and amenities you asked for in the master plan will go into the city’s Capital Improvement Program to be prioritized and then built.

Thank you for your continued support of these programs, and look for more road, park and many other great improvements around town over the next several years.