New Public Works Director Provides Assessment of Department Matters
Dan Wall had a very busy first week of work at his new job with the City of San Marino. The new public works director started on July 5 with a full agenda, which included meeting the city’s Parks and Public Works staff and visiting the Lacy Park Rose Arbor and restrooms, The Old Mill, Stoneman School and much more.
Wall sat down with The Tribune to discuss some of the projects he’ll be tackling as the head of the Parks and Public Works Department.
Pavement Management Plan
Wall is currently reviewing the city’s draft pavement management plan, a document that outlines San Marino’s approach to addressing its aging streets and sidewalks.
“Pavement management plans, in general, are great because streets are the biggest asset that any city has,” Wall said. He reported that San Marino’s streets are “in fairly good condition,” but that “they’re just below the state average.”
“If we don’t institute a proactive management program, [our streets will] fall into disrepair,” he added, noting “it makes sense to have a very structured method of maintaining [our streets].”
At a meeting of the San Marino City Council in June, City Manager John Schaefer said, “the longer you let a street go, the more it’s going to cost.”
Wall will share his recommendations regarding the city’s approach to its streets at a public hearing during a council meeting in September.
Lacy Park Rose Arbor
The city has been unsuccessful in finding an affordable solution to fix the Rose Arbor since its deterioration was brought to the public’s attention last year. During that time, the council considered demolition, repair and just about everything in between.
The city has received donations from the community—including a $117,000 gift from former mayor and two-term city council member Dr. Matthew Lin—but high bids from contracting firms make the restoration financially infeasible for the city at this time.
When it comes to repairing the Rose Arbor, Wall said, “it depends on how we want to make the repairs.”
“If we want to just do a ‘band-aid’ approach to it, then it’s certainly something that can be paid for now, but five years from now we’d have to make the same sort of repairs,” he said.
Wall preferred the long-term approach for the “beautiful landmark.”
“I’m looking to see what it would take to make a longer-term, more permanent repair, something around the order of a 50-year repair.”
Wall added, “I just want to make sure that whatever we do is respectful of the original design, but provides a long-term solution.”
Reducing Contract Costs
The parks and public works department has been dependent on contract services for most of its engineering needs in recent years. As the city’s first Parks and Public Works Director and City Engineer in 10 years, one of Wall’s duties will be to identify ways in which the city can reduce contract costs and improve the efficiency of its capital projects.
“I will certainly be able to oversee capital projects; however, the physical design of those capital projects, unless I have additional staff to augment me, I just wouldn’t be able to get projects out fast enough,” said Wall, who is the only engineer on staff.
For the 2016-17 fiscal year, Wall will continue to use contract services for project designs, while assessing the department’s staffing needs.
“As I am better able to assess where we are budget-wise in [the 2017-18 fiscal year], I’ll know if I should hire staff members or if I should continue to use outside engineering services,” he said.
Hello, Mr. Wall
Wall has enjoyed meeting city staff and talking to San Marino residents during his first couple of weeks.
“No matter what city residents are in they deserve the highest level of service that can be provided to them by their government,” he said.
He believes the City of San Marino’s staff is very qualified to serve its residents.
“I’ve been very impressed with the staff I have met in every department. [They’re] a very dedicated group of people that put customer service ahead of all else,” Wall said.