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Moving On

April 21, 2012

Today is my last full day as an employee of The City of Oklahoma City. With it brings many great memories; remembrance of things done, seen, and heard. My 6 years and 8 months at the City allowed me to go from being a mere graduate to a professional, husband, and father. I made many friends and met a variety of fascinating people.

Not many people that know me through my current position in the Planning Department are aware that I spent the first 3.5 years at the City in the Public Works Department. I managed construction projects, mapped the CIP and GOB projects, assisted with the transition to a new pavement management system, and wrote a variety of checklists to help others do their jobs. Holding degrees in engineering and planning, I never felt out of place in either department; I just utilized my skills in different ways.

Among my biggest accomplishments in Public Works was determining, estimating and mapping the 2007 GO Bond Election projects. I spent a lot of 5:00 am – 8:00 am sessions working on the 2007 GOB before my regular workday, going so far to as to mapping the 1989, 1995 and 2000 GOB projects as well. As a planner, I believe some of the projects (widening streets at the fringe, widening streets without high traffic count, building fire stations in rural areas) will only exacerbate problems with funding future operations and maintenance, but as a young staff member, I was excited to assist in passing the program package and helping the City overall.

Two of the streetscape projects I managed, the Asian District and NE 23rd Street, turned out well, but I worry about their longevity if the adjacent property owners and businesses don’t step up to maintain them. The City is moving forward on this type of issue with the Meridian Avenue corridor, and I hope it goes well and moves other districts that way.

Public Works was good to me in another way. Early on, Laura Story (my first supervisor) introduced me to the American Public Works Association. This national association provides education, networking and professional assistance for public works employees. Even as a young guy (the APWA Oklahoma Chapter is dominated by people 10 to 20 years my senior), I was elected to a variety of local and statewide positions, and I am now already Past-President of APWAOK. I’ve chaired the committee running the state conference the past three years. As APWAOK President, I was flown to Washington DC to present an award to Senator Inhofe. The past two years, I was a member, and then chair, of the committee that selects the education session speakers for the national convention. I’ve enjoyed APWA, to say the least.

The Planning Department was a big departure from Public Works, but I loved it. I was able to get my hands into design work, staffing three different design committees and working on a variety of ordinance updates. I am especially excited that the most recent Bricktown amendment is moving forward. It will go to City Council in June and will tighten many of the loose regulations and guidelines that allowed the approval of a parking lot/structure up against the Canal.

planokc, which has taken much of my time, is extremely important to the future of the city. I don’t think people truly understand how big of an undertaking this is and will be. This document will guide the City for the next 20 to 25 years. People need to keep themselves up to date and get involved. The Goals of the document are about ready for public review, and then it’s on to drafting policy.

The Green Infrastructure Initiative, something I started participating in while still in Public Works, has also taken my time as of late. We have put together a year’s worth of public education events, and working groups to discuss code issues and a large education event are moving forward.

Another project that I was involved in with both Public Works and Planning was the Bricktown Fire Station. I was the project manager during final negotiations with the consultant and helped gather all of the information that management used to determine that a LEED facility was worthwhile. The station is now the City’s first LEED Silver building. In Planning, the station was among the first buildings I had to review for Bricktown Urban Design. While the setback still bothers me (and is no longer permitted by code – buildings have to be at or within 10′ of the right-of-way), I think the overall appearance of the station fits in with the desired brick and historical fire house appearance.

My new career will take me on another journey. I’ll be consulting; assisting public agencies as they look at reducing costs by privatizing their utilities and other functions. That’s they short version. I’m excited for a new opportunity to expand my knowledge and provide assistance to others.

I’m going to miss my co-workers; they have truly become like family, and I hope they won’t mind me coming around once in a while to bug them… or heckle them at a public meeting.

Thank yous are due to many people – I started writing a list of names but it was getting very, very long. So thank you to everyone I’ve worked for and with.

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. April 29, 2012 2:33 AM

    Paul – this is a very poignant journal entry, and I for one appreciate your thoughtfulness with regards to our city. I’m just curious why you guys move forward on projects that you know are exacerbating big problems, and why you continued to work with and pay for a consultant that didn’t have the same goals in mind for the fire station as the community did.

    • April 29, 2012 8:29 PM

      The streetscapes went forward because, at the time of design and then construction, a loose affiliation of owners and community groups existed. This caused people to believe that maintenance would succeed. In the end, that turned out to be false. If I understand correctly, Public Works and Planning will not begin streetscape design and construction without a written agreement with the responsible party for maintenance.

      I don’t know the workings of what happened with the fire station consultant. I was unfortunately only project manager for a short time. The contract wasn’t in design when I left the project – I only returned to the project as a reviewer.

  2. July 20, 2012 1:12 AM

    I am ashamed I am only just now reading this. I am so behind on my OKC news and updates.

    I can’t thank you enough Paul first for your commitment and dedication to the City of Oklahoma City. But I also am very grateful for your friendship. I wish you the best of luck on your journey and I know you are going to continue to do amazing things for the people of OKC.

    The fight is a good one, keep leading!

Trackbacks

  1. Departing Thoughts from the Engineer turned Planner | OKC Central
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