Mixing it up with Facilities & Grounds

Colene Carter
Technical Services Program Manager
APWA Kansas City office

It is amazing the number of issues that can fall under the heading of "Facilities and Grounds." How can one committee address urban forestry, ADA compliance, building security, park maintenance, green building, workplace safety, landscaping and indoor air quality? For the Facilities & Grounds Technical Committee, the answer is to fill your committee with people with diverse backgrounds and experience.

The current committee members are:

  • Venu Gupta, P.E., Chair, City of Milwaukee, WI
  • George Gonzalez, City of Los Angeles, CA
  • Hildo Hernandez, Los Angeles County (retired)
  • Michele Ohmes, City of Kansas City, MO
  • Harry Weed, Village of Rockville Centre, NY
  • Clarence Wright, City of Detroit, MI (retired)

They do their best to keep APWA's members up-to-date on the latest trends by developing Congress sessions, writing articles, contributing to publications, and providing links of interest to the Operations infoNOW Community online.

They have emphasized urban forestry lately. The value of trees is on the rise. With the number of stormwater programs growing, more cities are recognizing the value of trees in erosion control and slowing the flow of rainfall to streams and channels. Of course, trees have long been coveted for their shade. But trees also have great air quality benefits. Storms have taken quite a toll on the tree canopy in many communities. New tree replacement programs are popping up from coast to coast. Cities are also having problems with street trees that are reaching maturity and the root systems are wreaking havoc with sidewalks. So, the urban forestry topic is unlikely to "make like a tree and leave" anytime soon.

Public facilities are always of interest, particularly reuse of existing facilities for new purposes and construction of public works facilities such as garages and equipment yards. Grounds staff are always interested in the types of equipment being used for mowing and sidewalk snow removal. Budgeting usually comes up too, even though it isn't new or trendy! But cities have a habit of taking care of citizens first and their own facilities last.

The committee is always looking out for ways to work cooperatively with other organizations to benefit all members. Their efforts brought about a collaboration with the Professional Grounds Management Society on certification.

Committee members are occasionally asked for input on new or proposed legislation or regulations. Each year, they complete a review of all of APWA's position papers related to facilities and grounds. Currently, they are working on a new urban forestry position paper.

Input from members and chapters is always welcomed by the committee. A PowerPoint presentation on the committee has been prepared for use by the chapters. The presentation and much more can be found on APWA's website by clicking on "Technical Committees" and choosing "Facilities & Grounds." You can find meeting summaries, position papers and contact information.

Colene Carter can be reached at (816) 595-5221 or