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It’s National Planning Month: Get to Know HRG’s Planning Team

October is National Planning Month, a time to celebrate the professionals who make our communities great places to live, work, and play. That includes several members of HRG’s team, so this week we’ll be spotlighting some of the people at HRG who’ve dedicated their careers to planning great communities.

 

Jamie Keener

Jamie B. Keener, AICP, Sr. Sales Executive Eastern RegionJamie Keener is certified by the American Planning Association’s American Institute of Certified Planners and has almost 30 years of experience in the industry. His resume includes preparing comprehensive plans, subdivision and land development ordinances, and zoning ordinances for communities as well as preparing site plans for industrial, commercial, industrial and residential developments for the private sector.  He has prepared planning studies addressing all aspects of community infrastructure, including water and wastewater systems and transportation.

Why did you become interested in planning as a career?

I wanted to help guide communities in making informed decisions regarding land use, infrastructure, and economic development.

What has been your favorite project to work on, and why?

I don’t have a favorite project. Each project is rewarding as I see communties evolve and progress due to the plans we’ve created together.

Read Jamie’s bio

 

Kirsten Primm

Kirsten PrimmKirsten is a planner in HRG’s Pittsburgh office. She acts as a liaison between community groups, government agencies, developers and elected officials in developing neighborhood plans. She provides information to the public regarding development regulations, assists in resolving citizen and customer issues, and conducts field evaluations and assessments. She makes sure development proposals and site plans conform with codes and regulations and helps communities develop codes that promote the kind of development they want to see. Prior to joining HRG, she was a community development coordinator with Armstrong County, where she helped more than a dozen municipalities apply for and manage grant funding.

Why did you become interested in planning as a career?

I have always had a strong background in research, writing, and editing.  Being able to apply those skills became a natural fit to the planning field, as research and development are paramount to planning. Translating and communicating that research into a deliverable product the clients can clearly understand and implement is also very important to my work in the planning field. It is very gratifying to watch my work be successfully elevated to an implemented, tangible product that benefits a client and their community. 

What has been your favorite project to work on, and why?

Since starting at HRG, I’ve had the opportunity to work on a variety of projects. Assisting with the creation of municipal regulations (including zoning regulations and subdivision and land development ordinances) has been both challenging and rewarding, knowing that the end result will provide better community decision-making and positive public impact for our clients.  Having the ability to create templates and tools for municipal clients is a great way to take my previous planning knowledge and apply it to my new projects.

 

Tim Staub

Tim is certified by the American Planning Association’s American Institute of Certified Planners and is a two-time winner of the association’s Outstanding Plan Award via its Pennsylvania chapter. He also has wide-ranging expertise in green infrastructure and sustainable planning, program management, group facilitation and conflict resolution, public involvement, and financial reporting and analysis. In addition to his many years of experience in the consulting industry, Tim is a member of the Springettsbury Township Planning Commission in York County.

Why did you become interested in planning as a career?

I grew up in Gettysburg, PA  and I was always fascinated in how the town was able to strike a balance between preserving the past and promoting innovation and growth. At the heart of this balance, I discovered planners were the great facilitators/mediators shaping communities, which made me want to pursue my career path.

What has been your favorite project to work on, and why?

I have worked on many memorable projects; however, the one that comes to mind is the shortest effort I spent on a planning project: the Ohiopyle Design Charrette, which spanned over an intensive three days.

Ohiopyle is a regional destination for whitewater rafting, bicycling and outdoor activities located in Southwestern Pennsylvania. These attractions bring approximately 1.5 million visitors to the area each year. As part of the charette, I worked with Ohiopyle Borough residents and members of Ohiopyle State Park to help the community’s 75 residents adjust to the influx of people, which caused a significant strain on the community’s infrastructure.

Our team recommended designing complete streets for various modes of travel, moving the wastewater treatment facility away from the Youghiogheny River, incorporating green infrastructure stormwater design, revising parking areas and structures, improving regional road and trail connections, and integrating a new visitor center along the waterfront. Many of these recommendations have been implemented since this project was completed in 2008.

Read Tim’s bio

 

 

Stay tuned throughout the week for more profiles of HRG’s planning team members.

How to Choose the Best Method of GIS Data Collection for Water and Sewer Systems

Infrastructure Asset Management: Business Principles to Maximize Government Revenue Returns

This post is an excerpt from an article we published in the June 2017 issue of Borough News magazine entitled “Strategic Asset Management: Optimizing Your Borough’s Dollars.”

We hear a lot these days about the virtues of running government like a business, but what does that mean?

Any profitable business owner can tell you that success doesn’t happen by accident. Managers spend a good bit of time and money studying the environment in which they operate, identifying opportunities and threats, and planning the best ways to maximize growth while minimizing risk.

Though these efforts cost money, prudent managers know it is an investment in the company that will pay higher dividends over the long-term.

Part of a businessman’s overall strategic planning effort involves cataloguing his assets and maximizing their value. Assets can be wide-ranging: from people to trucks to buildings. The goal of asset management is to optimize the way you spend your budget dollars in order to make sure they are providing the biggest return: reducing the life cycle costs while maximizing the service each asset provides.

Who needs to optimize the way they spend their budget dollars more than cash-strapped municipalities under pressure to keep taxes low while obligations increase?

Most municipalities are grappling with aging infrastructure. Take water systems, for example: The American Society of Civil Engineers estimates that the cost to keep our water and wastewater system functioning over the long term is more than $1 trillion. While there is plenty of work to be done, there is simply not enough funding for communities to do it all at once. Therefore, ASCE recommends assessing the condition of every pipe and valve to determine the risks of failure and properly allocate funds where they are needed most. Asset management and capital improvement planning can help you target your limited budget dollars most effectively in all types of infrastructure: roadways, bridges, stormwater management systems and more.

For example, new technology is making it possible for municipalities to extend the life of their roadways through roadway management systems. Cameras and laser-scanning technology can be mounted to trucks that record the conditions of a municipality’s entire roadway system: noting cracks, pot holes, wheel rutting, and more. Doing this work manually would’ve been too labor-intensive and cost-prohibitive for communities in the past, but now, thanks to technological advancements, municipalities can collect better data at a lower cost without road closures or detours!

Once the data is collected, the municipality can work with an engineer to analyze it and prioritize a list of maintenance, repairs and reconstruction needs. A roadway management program like this emphasizes cost-effective, preventative maintenance activities to prolong the life of a roadway in good condition. By making well-timed, proactive investments, the municipality can enjoy better service from the roadway at a lower lifetime cost.

Silver Spring Township Roadway Management Program

HRG has designed a roadway management program for Silver Spring Township that is helping them save money and better position themselves for grant funding. Learn more

The same asset management and capital improvement principles can be applied to bridges, as well. Typically, this is done at the county level since they own more bridges than municipalities, but the process is similar. When Dauphin County first embarked on its bridge management program, 1/3 of its bridges were structurally deficient. They carefully catalogued the condition of each bridge and prioritized repairs and replacement contracts. Today, they have successfully eliminated all load-posted, structurally-deficient bridges in the county. The program has been so successful it’s generated a surplus of liquid fuels funding, and the county has been able to funnel that into a subsidized loan program for its municipalities to address their own infrastructure needs.

Duke Street Ribbon Cutting

Thanks to careful planning and a wise use of funds, Dauphin County recently completed the replacement of its last load-posted, structurally deficient bridge. Now they can use their Liquid Fuels money for an innovative infrastructure bank that is helping municipalities and the private sector improve local communities. Learn more

Asset management programs can be very important to municipalities looking to meet their MS4 stormwater obligations, as well – particularly if they are considering the implementation of a stormwater fee. Aging infrastructure and growing MS4 permit obligations are compelling municipalities to upgrade their stormwater systems. Though legislation allows them to charge a stormwater fee, they must be able to justify it, which means they must conduct a thorough inventory of their facilities and document the work that must be done to keep it functioning (along with cost estimates for that work). These are crucial facets of an asset management system.

Mobile GIS Development for MS4 Inspections

Municipalities will need a thorough inventory of their stormwater facilities and their condition in order to keep up with the increasing burden of MS4 permitting. Learn about a GIS application HRG created for Hampden Township to help them meet MS4 inspection and reporting requirements.

 

What is asset management?

Asset management is a systematic approach to minimizing the cost of owning, operating, and maintaining your infrastructure at acceptable levels of service.

It is not a computer system or GIS, though these are often valuable tools employed in an asset management program for record-keeping and data analysis.

A proper asset management and capital improvement program will help a municipality identify areas where money is not being spent wisely and reallocate those funds where they can be most beneficial.

It will also help you recognize and evaluate options for keeping your assets functioning for a longer period of time, so that you don’t need to invest in expensive upgrades or replacements as frequently.

It is a circular process that never ends.

Circular Nature of Asset Management

Many things change over time: the condition of your assets, regulations and the business climate you operate in, the number of users you serve, etc.  A good asset management and capital improvement program helps you plan for these changes in advance and respond proactively before they become threats to your bottom line.

 

What are the benefits of infrastructure asset management?

As we’ve already stated, an asset management and capital improvement program helps you identify exactly what maintenance and repair work is necessary without guesswork. This approach has multiple benefits:

Minimizing Risk
Knowing which infrastructure is most likely to fail (and correcting deficiencies before it does) can save you major expenses later. Knowing which failures would be the most catastrophic helps you target money toward their prevention as a first priority.

Maximizing Returns
Asset management and capital improvement planning is all about proactively investing in measures to extend the life of your infrastructure.  These small investments can extend the life of an asset by several years.

Optimizing Service and Satisfaction
Proactively maintaining your assets ensures they function at peak performance for a longer period of time and are replaced before they fail. This means your constituents receive top quality service without disruption and are happier for it. In addition, many asset management solutions include optional customer service applications that make it easier for residents and business owners to submit service requests and track them to completion.

Justifying Your Tax Rates or Fees
Rate increases are never popular, but they are easier for people to accept when they are backed up with clear data showing exactly what improvements are needed and why.

Accessing grants and loans
Competition for funding is fierce, and government agencies are under pressure to make sure the money they invest is used wisely. As a result, they’re more likely to award funds to municipalities who have clear documentation of the project need, its benefits, and a plan for getting it built, operating it, and maintaining it at optimum levels over time.

Improving your worth
Many municipalities have been considering the option of leasing or selling their assets as a response to growing financial obligations in the public sector. A comprehensive asset management system provides documentation of the value of your assets, so you can ensure you are in a position to negotiate the best possible deal for you and your constituents.  Potential investors will be more comfortable making a significant investment if they fully understand the value and the risks they’re assuming.

But asset management can benefit your financial picture even if leasing or selling is not on the horizon.

Under GASB standards, governments can either subtract a standard portion of their infrastructure’s value each year to account for depreciation (the traditional approach), or they can regularly assess the condition of the infrastructure, invest in maintenance to keep it in good condition, and then report the amount of money they have invested in maintenance (the modified approach, which is similar in scope to a typical asset management program).  Using the modified approach, the assets don’t have to depreciate in value like they would in the traditional approach.

A recent article in Governing magazine showed how investors appear to prefer trading bonds from governments that use the modified approach:

“Governments that use the modified method trade at much narrower price ranges compared to bonds from governments that depreciate. In other words, when a government uses the modified approach, investors are much more likely to agree on how to price its bonds. For governments, this can ultimately translate into lower bond interest rates.”

(excerpted from “Selling Your Sewer’s Story – Financial statements can make the best case for public works investors”)

 

The truth is, you’re going to have to invest in maintenance and repair anyway. If you invest in an asset management program, you can take a proactive approach to determining what maintenance is needed and then plan and budget for it in advance. This means you can target your maintenance dollars where they’re needed most and make sure you have the funds available to do the work before infrastructure failure brings even greater costs to bear on your budget.

Publicly-traded companies are held accountable to their shareholders. They must demonstrate that they are making good decisions for the future health of the company and maximizing the value of the shareholders’ investments. Taxpayers are coming to demand the same sort of accountability from their government, wanting proof that their tax dollars are providing a good return, as well. Municipal managers that can prove the value of their decisions will enjoy broad support of their constituents while improving the long-term financial stability of their community.


Adrienne M. VicariAdrienne Vicari, P.E., is the financial services practice area leader at Herbert, Rowland & Grubic, Inc., a civil engineering firm that serves local governments and authorities in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia. Ms. Vicari has assisted numerous municipalities and water and sewer authorities with the creation of asset management programs that have created increased value and lowered costs for her clients.

 

Carlisle Borough Uses Infiltration/Inflow Data to Devise Long-Term Plan for Infrastructure Repair and Replacement

Like many municipalities, Carlisle Borough is grappling with the challenge of aging infrastructure. Its sewer system features infrastructure that is more than 100 years old.  Since replacing it all at once is not possible from a financial perspective, borough officials needed to a way to narrow down exactly where investment should occur.  Which projects would provide the most value to Carlisle residents and business owners?  Infiltration and inflow data provided the answer.

Why infiltration and inflow data?

In the words of Carlisle Borough staff, “Inflow and infiltration is really just a symptom of failing infrastructure.” By figuring out where extraneous flow is entering the system, we get a hint as to where cracks or defects in the infrastructure may be located.

Josh Fox recently authored an article in the April/May/June issue of Keystone Water Quality Manager magazine on this project with the borough’s director of public works Mark Malarich, P.E.

The article discusses how HRG’s engineers evaluated infiltration and inflow data to determine what infrastructure needed repairs or replacement the most. First, the borough implemented a 16-week metering program to identify dry weather flow for comparison to wet weather data for the borough’s 21 sewer basins.

We then used the data to calculate peaking factor and total infiltration volume for each of the basins and ranked the basins accordingly. After analyzing the data, we determined that some basins had high peaking factors but infiltration dropped off quickly once the wet weather dissipated (like Area 1C in the figure below).  Other basins saw high infiltration volumes for several days after a wet weather event (like area 4 in the figure below).  This suggested that a high groundwater table was contributing a sustained flow via defects in the manholes, sewer mains and sewer laterals.  Therefore, total infiltration volume provided the best data for assessing the overall condition of the infrastructure.

 

Infiltration-Inflow-Data-from-Two-Basins

Taking our analysis one step further, we prioritized the basins with the highest total infiltration volume for further investigation and compared the total volume of infiltration/inflow in a basin to its size. By calculating the total infiltration per foot of pipe, we were able to more accurately estimate the severity of damage in each basin.  (For instance, two basins may have had similarly high total infiltration volumes, but one was significantly smaller than the other.  This suggests a higher severity of defects in the smaller basin for that much water to infiltrate in a smaller space, during the same time period, after the same wet weather event.)

Prioritized Basins by each factor

Using this data as a guide, HRG worked with the borough to devise a 20-year capital improvement plan for addressing the highest priority needs in the system.  HRG also helped the borough create a financial strategy for addressing these needs.

Rehabilitation of the highest priority basin is being completed in the spring of 2017 and is expected to come in almost $1 million under budget.

Read more about this project in the April/May/June 2017 issue of Keystone Water Quality Manager magazine.

HRG has written a great deal of advice on asset management and long-term infrastructure planning for water and wastewater systems. Read similar articles below:

 

 


Josh Fox, P.E.Josh Fox, is the regional manager of water and wastewater system services in HRG’s Harrisburg office.  He has extensive experience in the planning and design of wastewater collection and conveyance facilities, water supply and distribution systems, and stormwater facilities.

 

Tim Staub Joins HRG as Financial Services Team Leader

Tim StaubHerbert, Rowland & Grubic, Inc. (HRG) is pleased to announce that Tim Staub, AICP, is joining our firm as the financial services team leader.  Staub has twenty years of experience in community planning and financial analysis that he will put to work for HRG’s vast network of public and private sector clients.

“Tim has been on both sides of the table, representing municipalities and representing commercial and residential developers, on matters of land planning and community development,” financial services practice area leader Adrienne Vicari says.  “He knows what each side cares about and is uniquely talented at bringing both sides together for a solution that benefits everyone in the community.  He’s also very skilled at helping clients communicate their vision and assemble the financing needed to turn their vision into reality.”

Staub is certified by the American Planning Association’s American Institute of Certified Planners and is a two-time winner of the association’s Outstanding Plan Award via its Pennsylvania chapter. He also has wide-ranging expertise in green infrastructure and sustainable planning, program management, group facilitation and conflict resolution, public involvement, and financial reporting and analysis. In addition to his many years of experience in the consulting industry, Staub is a member of the Springettsbury Township Planning Commission in York County.

 

ABOUT HRG

Originally founded in 1962, HRG has grown to be a nationally ranked Top 500 Design Firm, providing civil engineering, surveying and environmental services to public and private sector clients. The 200-person employee-owned firm currently has office locations in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia. For more information, please visit the website at www.hrg-inc.com.

HRG Expands Its Municipal and Landscape Architecture Service Offerings in Response to Growing Demand

Herbert, Rowland & Grubic, Inc. (HRG) is expanding its services to include municipal planning tasks such as comprehensive plans, corridor planning, ordinance development, and master planning. The firm is also expanding its delivery of landscape architecture services, particularly the planning and design of parks, recreational facilities, and streetscapes. Along with this change comes the introduction of several new staff members and the promotion of several long-time staff members, as well.

“HRG has been a leader in municipal engineering for more than 50 years,” says Western Region Vice President Jason Fralick. “We represent many municipalities around the state, so we are fortunate enough to have a window into the issues that are important to communities and their leaders. Right now, many local governments are looking to establish a strategic vision for their communities over the long-term. They want to make sure their communities are positioned for growth and to offer vibrant and attractive spaces for people to live and work for many years into the future. We want to help them succeed.”

While HRG has offered planning services like these to several clients over the years, they have not actively marketed these capabilities. Recently, however, they noticed a spike in client requests for these services and wanted to respond to the need.

James A. Feath“Many of our clients are recognizing the changing needs of their community and, indeed, a change in the demographics of their community members,” says Jim Feath, landscape architecture team leader. “They are also facing development pressures and aging infrastructure challenges under limited budgets.   They know they need a long-term vision to meet these challenges and remain competitive in terms of attracting residents and businesses.”

Feath is one of the long-time staff members who is being promoted as part of the firm’s response to this market. He has been a landscape architect and project manager with the firm for 18 years but will now serve as the landscape architecture team leader. Chris Sarson, a land planner and landscape architect, will join the firm as a member of his team.

Long-time project manager Ben Gilberti has been promoted to be regional manager of HRG’s civil service group in Western PA, and Rob Arnold has joined Gilberti’s team as a project manager. Gilberti first joined HRG in 2001 and has amassed 15 years of experience in municipal engineering services such as developer reviews and inspections as well as roadway, water, sewer and stormwater management design. He also has extensive experience in site development, recreational facility design, and planning services.

Arnold has almost 40 years of experience as a civil engineer. He also has extensive expertise in regional planning and project funding due to his prior work as the economic development coordinator for the Northern Allegheny County Chamber of Commerce.

 

ABOUT HRG

Originally founded in 1962, HRG has grown to be a nationally ranked Top 500 Design Firm, providing civil engineering, surveying and environmental services to public and private sector clients. The 200-person employee-owned firm currently has office locations in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia. For more information, please visit the website at www.hrg-inc.com.