Pitkin’s public works director going Down Under to share ideas | AspenTimes.com

Pitkin’s public works director going Down Under to share ideas

Naomi Havlen

Pitkin County Public Works Director Brian Pettet inside the cab of a new mower at the public works yard Wednesday afternoon. Paul Conrad/The Aspen Times

Brian Pettet, director of Pitkin County public works, has been chosen to visit Australia as a sort of ambassador of public works for the United States.The Jennings Randolph International Fellowship Program awarded Pettet the two-week trip, during which he will present his own public works research and glean from public works experience Down Under.”I’ll be taking what we’ve learned to Australia so they can learn from our challenges and successes,” Pettet said. “I’ll also find out how they solve problems. We like to think that we’re unique in Aspen but we’re not – our problems are shared throughout the world.”

Pettet’s application for the program included his research paper “Colorado Governments: Helping to ensure that development pays its own way” that studies growth management in public works for Pitkin County, Boulder and the state of Colorado.”People here and around Aspen don’t realize how cutting edge our government agencies are,” he said. “We take a lot of what we have, like our natural resources, for granted. This is an opportunity to go other places and talk about what we are doing.”It’s all about managing growth and the effects development has on public works – everything from roads and bridges to local sewer systems. Pettet’s research paper points out laws in Pitkin County that ensure developers pay for road impacts based on the size of their developments.

In Boulder, a “plant investment fee” is charged for new developments or redevelopment according to the number of bathrooms. For example, Pettet said a house built with three bathrooms in Boulder would pay a base fee of $14,820, which is invested in the existing water, sewer and stormwater infrastructure.Pettet said some of the methods used in Colorado are particularly interesting to governments in the suburbs surrounding Sydney that are facing plenty of growth. That area will be Pettet’s first stop before going on to Adelaide, where he’ll present his research in front of an international audience of public works employees.Finally, he’ll be putting together a study of information gathered in Australia to be presented at a conference next year in New Orleans.

“I’m honored to have been selected from the United States, and to come from a community that is supporting me and that I’ll be proud to represent,” he said.Pettet’s trip is being funded by the Jennings Randolph International Fellowship Program, which was established by the Eisenhower World Affairs Institute in May 1987. He said President Eisenhower believed working people in the United States are the country’s best ambassadors, and so there are similar international fellowship programs for people in other careers like medicine, law and education.His trip is also being paid for by the American Public Works Association’s Colorado Chapter, and by PBS&J, a Denver consulting firm that gives funds each year to research. Only two people from the public works sector in the United States are going to Australia. The other representative is from Virginia.Naomi Havlen’s e-mail address is nhavlen@aspentimes.com