CITY, COUNTY PUBLIC WORKS DEPARTMENTS FORGE STRONG ALLIANCE

The CMU Quad project is an example of city-county cooperation.

The CMU Quad project is an example of city-county cooperation.

By Caitlin Switzer

MONTROSE—(August 5, 2014)  Yes, the pavement is perfect and the new Colorado Mesa University Quad allows students to walk safely back and forth between buildings at CMU’s Montrose Campus. However, the project also reveals what can be accomplished when local agencies work together, according to City of Montrose Public Works Director John Harris and Montrose County Public Works Director Ken Winckler.

“The City did the roadwork,” Harris said. “But when we took on the project we called the County, and they donated crews and helped us haul off the sub-base. It’s a great example of collaboration; Ken Winckler and I are finding that our philosophies are the same, and that we can get a lot done by working together.

“It makes a lot of sense.”

A strong relationship between City and County public works departments benefits the public in many ways, Winckler said.

“We like finding ways to work together as a group,” Winckler said. “In an emergency, a lot of boundaries need to come down, and we need to work efficiently within financial constraints.

“And if you look at things together, more heads can help solve problems.”

The City will also be part of the process as Montrose County begins the process of building a new public works facility, he said.

“We plan on going to different jurisdictions together, to visit communities that have new facilities,” Winckler said.     “It just makes more sense to look at what other places have done than to start from scratch.”

A recent collaboration involved Black Canyon Golf Course, management of which was taken over by the City of Montrose in 2013.

“When the City took on the course, the County sent over a boom truck to help us repair the driving range,” Harris said. “Now we are working to draft an MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) so we can share equipment back and forth.”

The relationship began when the two public works professionals, both of whom are relatively new to Montrose, were introduced.

“We clicked right off the bat,” Harris said. “We worked on snow removal together last winter, and we share training now as well.”

Coming up is one of the biggest, most exciting projects either entity has worked in recent years, Harris said.

“We’ll be working on the water park next,” he said. “It has been something like herding cats with all of the entities involved, but our City Engineer Scott Murphy just overcame one of the biggest hurdles last week, working out an important change with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Now we are on schedule to construct through the Winter; things will really begin to take shape.”

Winckler expressed amazement at the Water Park project.

“It’s absolutely incredible,” he said. “There are so many things going on here–this is such a live-able area.”

Both directors have invited one another to attend informal work gatherings to build rapport between staffers as well, Harris said.

“Ken is coming to our crew’s August ‘birthday day,’ and I will be going to their meeting Aug. 7,” Harris said. “I don’t take on any projects without talking to Ken–we see Montrose as one community, and what we do as a City affects that community.”

The real heroes in both departments are the employees, Harris added.

“It’s the guys out there sweating and working hard every day who get the work done,” he said.