Public works in Central Europe: Public works associations from the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia report progress

Dr. Ladislav Záhumenský
Executive Director of SPWA

In the March issue of the APWA Reporter, you were informed about the coordinated work of the public works associations of the Vishegrad Four (V4) countries (the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia) toward organizing their spring General Assemblies. The purpose of this effort was to enable APWA representatives to visit the Central European countries and to meet public works professionals from this region. It was a great pleasure for Czech, Hungarian, Polish and Slovak representatives to meet with professionals from the U.S. and Canada: Dwayne E. Kalynchuk, APWA official representative; Geoff Greenough, APWA past president and delegation leader; Jimmy Foster, Public Works Director, City of Plano, Texas; Belo Csomor, Canadian Slovak and Public Works Director, Town of Deep River, British Columbia, Canada; and Guy Cicon (with Slovak heritage), Public Works Director, City of Port Alberni, British Columbia, Canada.

The meeting of all the delegations in the High Tatras in Slovakia, as well as bilateral meetings between APWA delegates and representatives of public works in Hungary, Slovakia, Poland and Czech Republic, laid serious foundations for future collaboration by public works officials of the whole region (with approximately 75 million citizens and about 500,000 square kilometers). These meetings were also very beneficial in improving and developing a friendly relationship among our nations.

The first step on this path was the signing of a collaboration agreement by the presidents of the public works associations from the V4 countries. This agreement was signed on June 29, 2001, in Breclav, Czech Republic.

The next step will be attendance by representatives of the public works associations in the V4 countries at the APWA Congress in Philadelphia on September 9-12. All participating parties are working intensively on the preparations for this trip. Polish, Hungarian, Slovak and Czech public works representatives would greatly appreciate any kind of assistance and help with making the arrangements for the Congress. Accommodation of delegates, either before or after Congress with the possibility of visiting public works agencies and facilities, job shadowing, etc., would also be appreciated.

Jimmy Foster from the City of Plano, Texas used an appropriate proverb at the meeting in the High Tatras when he said, "A journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step." Together, we have already taken the first steps, and I trust that with mutual support and help, we will also reach one thousand miles-without loss and with benefit of good will to all.

Contact to SPWA: Michal and Ladislav Záhumenský
Phone/fax number: +421 2 4488 7505
Cell phone: +421 903 217 622