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ASK ANN

Brad Wooley, Street Superintendent, City of Frisco, TX asks, "Here in our city, it has been a common practice for the Public Works Department to loan out and oftentimes set out barricades, cones, and etc. for events that are not City sponsored such as school functions, church functions, and charity drives. Do you know of any legal issues that might occur due to this practice?"

Thanks for your question, Brad. Every Public Works Department is faced with this issue, oftentimes more frequently than we'd like. I'm not an attorney but I am not aware of a legal issue that could result from your department placing the barricades or cones unless you might be dramatically reversing the direction of traffic on a street and an accident occurred because of that change. In my experience, if the department placed the barricades, someone else from the Police or Public Safety Department, or even a public works employee, was usually on hand for crowd control or to direct traffic. Check with your City Attorney for his/her legal opinion. After all, he/she would be charged with defending your agency if a problem arose.

"What would you do if a City Commissioner called you and told you to resurface the street for one of his constituents?"

One of two things: Tell him yes, send out a crew immediately, and then begin looking for a new job. Or, better yet, share your street repair/maintenance plan and show him where the street fits in that plan. Of course, this would assume that you have a street maintenance plan. If this doesn't satisfy him, you will need to send him to your City Manager or Chief Elected Official. This leads me to suggest that you develop a Communications Plan if you don't have one. What are the proper steps for a city employee to follow when a Council Member goes directly to the Department Head? You need to work through this plan with your agency, put it down in writing so everyone knows and understands, and then you'll be prepared to send those questions through the appropriate chain of command.

We have an abandoned manufacturing factory in our city and are concerned that there might be petroleum contamination on the site. Can you direct us to more information on how to handle the situation if it proves to be so?

Almost every city and town contains a site with an underground storage tank that is affected by petroleum contamination or impacted by the perception that contamination exists. Idle manufacturing plants, old gas stations, or commercial areas that dealt with oil in some way are prime areas for this contamination. The Northeast-Midwest Institute (NEMW) has produced a report called From Rags to Riches: Innovations in Petroleum Brownfields. The report explores the issues and opportunities of petroleum-contaminated brownfield sites, describes the progress that states and communities have made in addressing underground storage tank (UST) situations, lays out lessons learned from the pioneer "USTfield pilots," and re-examines the detailed findings and recommendations from the earlirer landmark report, Recycling America's Gas Stations (RAGS), published in 2002. You can read the newest report, as well as the two earlier ones, at www.nemw.org/brownfields.htm.

We are looking for suggestions to help us develop our stormwater outreach campaign. Can you suggestion something?

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has developed a set of materials that local governments can customize and use in their own stormwater outreach campaigns. The most common cause of water pollution is stormwater runoff. Because stormwater pollution is caused by so many different activities, traditional regulatory controls will only go so far in solving the problem. Education and outreach are key components to any successful stormwater program. EPA has produced two publications that your agency could use to understand how the National NPDES stormwater program applies to builders. The first, The Role of Local Governments in Implementing the NPDES Stormwater Program for Construction Sites, is a new brochure that gives a brief overview of the NPDES Stormwater program on construction sites. Your agency could provide the information to operators of construction sites to implement steps to prevent sediment and other pollutants from washing off into nearby streams, rivers, lakes, and coastal waters.

The second publication, Does Your Construction Site Need a Stormwater Permit? A Construction Site Operator's Guide to EPA's Stormwater Permit Program, provides construction companies with a brief overview of EPA's Construction General Permit and its requirements. You can find both documents at EPA's website at http://cfpub.epa.gov/npdes/stormwatermonth.cfm. Hope this helps.

So, what's up with the Fleet Manager Certification? When's it going to start and how can I get an application?

Good news! It's already started. The eligibility application is available online at the Certification web page at www.apwa.net/certification/cpfp.asp. The deadline for filing the eligibility application is January 22, 2007 to ensure the examination can be taken. Upon receiving notice of eligibility, the examination application must be filed by March 22, 2007 for the examination that will be offered on Saturday, April 21, 2007 at the North American Snow Conference in St. Paul, MN. Contact Becky Stein, Certification Manager, at bstein@apwa.net for more details.

Ask Ann...

Questions are welcome.

Please address all inquiries to:

Ann Daniels
Director of Technical Services
APWA, 2345 Grand Blvd., Suite 500
Kansas City, MO 64108-2625

Fax questions to: (816) 472-1610
E-mail:
adaniels@apwa.net