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Public Works Gives Service a Good Name

Providing the necessary services to keep the city’s wheels turning is no small feat — and it’s a duty that San Marino’s Parks and Public Works Department digs into with pride.

On May 22, in celebration of National Public Works Week, the department pulled out all the stops for its inaugural open house at Lacy Park. The spring day turned into a sunny backdrop of children happily donning orange safety vests and yellow hard hats to climb aboard public works vehicles like a tractor and garbage truck.

The event allowed community members of all ages to put a face to the dedicated city personnel that take on maintaining and servicing San Marino on a daily basis, including the city partners and vendors who came out to help educate the public.

Photo by Natalie Miranda / A child buckles up in the driver’s seat during the vehicle and equipment showcase.

The Parks and Public Works Department is responsible for the maintenance, repair, design and construction of the city’s infrastructure apart from water.

Mariposa Tree Service Inc., a contractor that partners with the city, demonstrated how their workers rig themselves up in the trees to trim them. Children were able to put on a harness and be lifted up to the extending canopy of branches.

A vehicle and equipment showcase proved to be a favorite among attendees. The city’s lawnmowers, backhoes, loaders, lift trucks and more were on display for up-close inspection.

Parks and Public Works Director Amber Shah said she was overjoyed to see the department’s first-ever open house come to fruition.

“I’m incredibly proud of our team and happy to share the excitement with staff,” Shah said. “Public works is one of those jobs that are thankless, because what we do happens behind the scenes.”

Photo by Natalie Miranda / Kristy Ramos, Evan Salse and Hudson Boyd join Parks and Public Works Department employee Brandon Boyd at Lacy Park to learn about what he does for a living.

Though her team is only made up of 16 members, Shah said at the end of the day, their contributions are crucial to the function of San Marino.

“I know I can count on every single team member,” Shah said. “They represent the city so well, and they love the community.”

Brandon Boyd, a maintenance worker for the department, said bringing his family to the open house is a memory that he will always cherish.

“Every day it’s hard to get up and go to work and be away from my family, but to share a part of my life with them that they don’t usually get to see is really an amazing moment,” said Boyd, adding that watching his son enjoy being on a tractor, a piece of equipment he regularly uses on the job, was special to witness.

Parks and Public Works Manager Chris Gutierrez said the open house offered staff an outing that was a departure from their day-to-day operations.

“The team we have is incredible, and for people to come out to see and appreciate what we’re doing out here is great,” Gutierrez said. “A day like this is what we work for. This is our reward.”

One aspect of the event Shah said she was especially keen to introduce to guests was the progress the department has made so far in transitioning to “go green.” In the next two to three years, Shah hopes the city will be fully electric to improve air quality, noise reduction and reap the benefits that come with going electric.

Photo by Natalie Miranda / City Manager Philippe Eskandar alongside Parks and Public Works Director Amber Shah celebrated the inaugural open house. The Bobcat, which Shah is pictured inside of, arrived to the city just one day before the event.

City Manager Philippe Eskandar said he’s proud of the effort that was put in by the 16-member public works team to make the open house a success.

“We have a small but mighty public works team, and our public works director and city engineer, Amber Shah, is amazing at empowering her troop to do this kind of event,” Eskandar said.

The safety vests, hard hats and snacks were donated by Public Safety Commissioner Charles Martinson, who serves as chair of the group.

“I could not be more proud to be a part of a community where the staff is doing the good work, and the residents are trying to contribute and build on the staff’s work,” Eskandar said. “It’s really humbling, and I love to see it.”

Eskandar motivates all residents to engage with department staff when they are out and about in the city.

“Anytime you see staff on the street, don’t hesitate to ask them what they’re doing,” he said. “They love to talk to people about what they’re doing and why they are doing it. So, for us, the more we can educate the public on what we’re doing, it pays dividends in community trust and building a rapport. One thing I would encourage folks to do is get out there and meet our staff and learn about what we’re doing. And while this event is once a year, we are out there 365 days a year.”

First published in the May 30 issue of the San Marino Tribune

Photo by Natalie Miranda / Mariposa Tree Service Inc. spent the day demonstrating to children how they go up into trees to trim them.


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