The mayor of a city, if he or she is as fortunate as this mayor, and wants to do the job properly, must at times perform the duties of a public relations officer. I am feeling that urge today.

I've spent a number of hours accompanying and observing members of Concord's Public Works Department performing a myriad of diverse and specialized tasks that collectively filled me with great admiration and pride.

Like attending a rehearsal of a giant dramatic production, I went behind the scenes and saw what it takes to operate the infrastructure of a well-run, effectively managed city. Quite frankly, when it comes to our Public Works Department, I was astonished how much we take for granted in our daily lives and that is why I want to share some of my observations.

The Public Works Department is comprised of eight divisions, employing 61 full-time employees; this does not include our many seasonal workers.

As I recount some of the statistics regarding the volume of their workload, please remember that its staff was drastically cut during the recent recession and our economy has not improved to the point where we can consider adding to their numbers. This, of course, raises the specter of deferred maintenance and frankly, that is one of my most compelling concerns.

There are seven employees in the Sewer Division. They maintain more than 383 miles of sewer, which means they hydroclean 1,287,361 linear feet of sewer. I accompanied a team of workers as they cleaned out the sewer line on Landana Drive, near Dana Plaza.


Advertisement

I had the pleasure of visiting a number of job sites, watching them plant trees, repair city streets, set up for events at Todos Santos Park, and more. When you see Concord's city workers in their orange shirts, working on sewer lines all over the city, and doing many other maintenance tasks, you can share the same feeling of respect I feel as they perform their important work.

The Signs Division has four employees. They inspect and maintain 14,800 signs and every square inch of pavement and curb markings. The three employees of the Signal Division maintain, repair, and replace more than 8,200 city-owned streetlights, along with 150 signalized intersections (over 6,000 LED lights).

Whether driving, biking, or walking, we don't pay much attention to our streets, unless we come across a pothole, but the condition of the streets impact our lives daily. Another statistic for you to appreciate: we have 1,425 streets in Concord. That computes to 875 curb miles; 4,620,000 linear feet of street surface which are cleaned monthly by two employees.

The other seven members of the Street Division maintain 59,500,000 square feet of asphalt, 231 miles of storm drains, 6,000 storm drain catch basins, and more than 13.5 miles of drainage channels and ditches.

Have enough statistics? I know you're beginning to get the idea. Now you know how I felt when Concord's Public Works Director Justin Ezell began to count off the various numbers and statistics with which he is involved on a daily basis.

But we're not finished. The 1,195,339 square feet of medians and roadside of the streets are maintained by five employees of the Parks Median Division, not including seasonal workers.

The Parks Division recently planted 57 trees at the Boatwright Fields. This division has 15 employees, including a certified arborist. Planting trees is a small part of their duties. They also care for trees, remove litter, and maintain 26 parks, mow more than 31,000,000 square feet of grass, in addition to inspecting and repairing park play structures.

Finally, the Fleet Division, comprised of five employees, repairs more than 261 city of Concord vehicles, and provides similar services to seven other outside agencies.

Thank you for your patience. You are not expected to remember the specifics of the many divisions highlighted. The point is that the city Public Works Department makes a significant contribution to the quality of life we all have come to expect. It is another example of the services you pay for with your tax dollars.

I believe our citizens are getting the benefit of exceptional services at a bargain rate. By way of comparison: one example, the Walt Disney World Resort, which does entertain millions of visitors on a regular basis, provides services which are comparable to what I've described for our city.

To do this they have a staff of 58,000 employees. I know they have a lot more to do and have many additional features, but when you compare this to Concord's Public Works staff of 61 full-time employees, I believe we are doing quite well.

Now you know why I am so proud of the job they are doing.

Tim Grayson is the mayor of Concord. Contact him at citycouncil@ci.concord.ca.us.