What's up with Facilities and Grounds

Karen D. Bloodworth
Technical Services Program Manager
APWA Kansas City Office

The APWA Facilities and Grounds Technical Committee has been actively pursuing a number of interesting initiatives on behalf of their industry colleagues, one of which is urban forestry. Previous APWA Congress sessions on this subject have been very well attended, and last November's Click, Listen & Learn program entitled "Innovative Ideas for Sidewalk Management" ranked among the top in number of sites participating. Earlier this month APWA conducted an interview with the Director of Urban Community Forestry at the U.S. Forest Service, Mark Buscaino, to discuss programs and resources available to public works departments. The results of that interview are detailed on page 48 in this issue.

Recently committee members held a discussion about the three most critical issues facing public facilities and grounds managers. The topics will be used to drive the coming year's work plan. Budget issues and reorganization continue to be of great concern. Members commented that agencies are having difficulty raising property taxes and new fees are not welcomed; however, the cost of doing business is continuing to rise. Agencies and departments have to rethink all strategies and business plans, and more and more we must learn from our associations, agencies and industry colleagues about successful programs, outcomes and best practices. Here are the three key issues identified by the Facilities and Grounds Committee.

  • Budget shortfalls/reorganization (creative thinking and idea sharing among and within agencies)

  • Reduce waste and improve effectiveness in everything we do (managers must do much more with much less)

  • Aging facilities—deferring needed repairs and maintenance to buildings and equipment

The Facilities and Grounds Committee has also completed the research and planning for three industry technical sessions for the 2005 International Public Works Congress and Exposition. Members of APWA that have a responsibility for facility or grounds management should expect to receive a personal e-mail invitation from the committee that will detail a comprehensive list of sessions related to facilities and grounds management. Below is a sneak preview of the titles and descriptions for technical sessions that the committee has prepared.

  • Historic "Old Sacramento" Accessibility Project, Cynthia Kranc, Facilities Manager, City of Sacramento, California — Old Sacramento, registered as a National Landmark, is located on 28 acres adjacent to the Sacramento River. It is home to 50 historic buildings, more than 100 stores and businesses, and attracts over 5 million visitors each year. A court ruling concerning access for the disabled community required the City of Sacramento to modify 5,000 lineal feet of existing 14-foot-wide boardwalk, over 30 curb ramping systems and multiple parking stalls. In an effort to streamline the schedule and yet remain flexible, the City of Sacramento determined that this complex and unique construction project should be performed with city staff, specialty contractors and temporary hires. Attend this session and learn about the challenges associated with this unusual project and find out why the City is on target to bring the project in under budget and ahead of schedule. (See the related article on page 52 in this issue.)

  • Operational Guidelines for Grounds Management, Kevin O'Donnell, Villanova University — Designed to assist the Parks Superintendent/Grounds Manager or the public administrator to organize their grounds management operations. The presentation will focus on benchmarking your organization, environmental stewardship, grounds staffing guidelines and position descriptions.

  • What Does Your Department Do? Marketing Your Facilities and Grounds (or any) Program to Public Officials, Venu Gupta, Director of Buildings and Fleet, City of Milwaukee — In today's challenging budget environment all departments are competing for their share of local funding. The department that can most successfully demonstrate the benefit and value of their program will likely be rewarded with a bigger piece of the funding pie.

    Public officials are under ever-increasing pressure to reduce local tax levies; they are very focused on results and want to ensure that departments are strategic in meeting the business needs of the city. Facilities and grounds officials must tell their story and demonstrate how they support the goals and objectives of the city and public officials. The presentation will illustrate the many ways that a facilities and grounds department can utilize proven concepts to demonstrate and market the value and benefit of their services to public officials and/or the administration.

Members of the Facilities and Grounds Committee at the Atlanta Congress. From left to right, standing: Clarence Wright, Venu Gupta, Larry Frevert, Gene Moore, Karen Bloodworth, and Dwight Riggle. Front row: Michele Ohmes, Hildo Hernandez and Maddie, Michele's service dog.

The Facilities and Grounds Committee supports outside alliances and continues to research joint projects and value-added initiatives with other professional associations and state and federal groups. We are currently working with the Professional Grounds Management Society (PGMS) on their credentialing program (see page 46), and with the International Facility Managers Association (IFMA) to identify joint projects that provide additional resources for public facility managers.

Your APWA Facilities and Grounds Technical Committee is committed to increasing the value of services delivered to our citizens, while growing industry knowledge, information sharing and professionalism. We welcome your input and invite you contact us with questions, suggestions for future Congress programs, APWA Reporter articles or publications. Contact information for the committee members can be found at or you can reach Karen Bloodworth, staff liaison, at or at (800) 848-APWA.