Public works systems lays the foundation for prosperous and resilient communities
By Chris Ghione
Public works play a vital role in the development and prosperity of small cities in California. From maintaining infrastructure to promoting environmental sustainability, public works initiatives are the backbone of our community.
One of the key responsibilities of public works professionals in smaller cities, like the city of Morgan Hill, is the maintenance and improvement of infrastructure. In Morgan Hill, roads, bridges, trails, sidewalks, parks, public buildings, the water system, the sewer system, and stormwater systems are vital components of making Morgan Hill a safe and vibrant community.
In Morgan Hill the city’s Public Services Department provides the public works functions for our community through four key divisions: Utilities, Maintenance, Environmental Services, and Engineering.
Within the Utilities Division, our team of professionals is relied on to ensure a steady supply of clean water for residents, businesses, and public facilities.
They are distributing potable water while safeguarding public health and the environment. The division also supports the city’s wastewater (sewer) collection system, which collects and delivers all residential, commercial, and industrial wastewater to the South County Regional Wastewater Facility at the south end of Gilroy.
The Maintenance Division is made up of about a dozen full-time professionals and supported by additional part-time and seasonal team members as well as various specialized contractors.
The maintenance team members are responsible for maintaining all of the city roads, storm systems, sidewalks, public rights of way, parks, open spaces, and public buildings. These services are provided in a manner that requires balancing very limited resources with the vast needs of the city and the ongoing search for efficiencies in operations.
With a growing emphasis on sustainable practices along, environmental mandates from the state of California, and the Morgan Hill City Council’s goal of protecting the environment, the city has a very small team of four full-time staff members working on these efforts within the Environmental Services Division.
The division’s work focuses on developing, implementing, and enforcing innovative water conservation measures, supporting stormwater pollution prevention, managing the city’s solid waste franchise and programs, and implementing the city’s Climate Action Plan.
The city’s Engineering Division is responsible for implementing major capital projects to construct new city infrastructure and reviewing public infrastructure improvements in conjunction with new development. Projects include new roads such as the Hale Avenue Extension, new buildings like the new fire station planned for Butterfield Boulevard, new park facilities such as the Magical Bridge Playground, and water and wastewater infrastructure like new water wells and reservoirs. The division also leads the effort on the rehabilitation and repaving of the city roadways.
Public works initiatives extend far beyond infrastructure and utility management in Morgan Hill. They also contribute to the development and preservation of parks, recreational areas, and open spaces, enhancing the quality of life for residents. Well-maintained parks provide residents with spaces for physical activity, community gatherings, and leisurely pursuits, promoting social cohesion and fostering a sense of belonging.
Public works professionals are indispensable in supporting the well-being of our community. Through effective infrastructure management, water resource stewardship, and the promotion of green spaces, the efforts of these professionals contribute to a high quality of life for our residents. The benefits of public works extend beyond immediate improvements, as they foster economic development, enhance public safety, and create sustainable environments for future generations.
Ensuring the ongoing investment in public works systems lays the foundation for prosperous and resilient communities that can thrive in an ever-evolving world.
Chris Ghione is the public services director for the city of Morgan Hill.