An Extra Set of Eyes
The City of Pullman relies on so many individuals to succeed that sometimes it is hard to keep track of who the people are that come to help.
When the city sees places to improve they bring in consultants to provide insight to their situation. Kevin Gardes, Pullman’s Public Works Director, usually deals with bringing in consultants because Public Works handles most of the city’s projects or improvements.
The city usually brings in a consultant for a fresh set of eyes. The city may see a problem, and know what it wants to do, but the department may not come up with every possible option, Gardes said.
“One of the biggest reasons we bring someone in is because they have specific knowledge or expertise on an issue we’re having,” Gardes said.
The price will determine the way he looks for a consultant. If the price is $50,000 or under the city will first look at their roster of consultants, Gardes said. However, if the price is higher, the city usually looks for funding from a federal level.
“We advertise saying we need a consultant, why we need them,” he said. “After that, firms send us their qualifications, and we evaluate them.”
The department in charge will finish the process by interviewing two or three firms to get a personal look before making a final decision on a consultant.
Recently the city brought in two consultants to do a study of downtown Pullman along Grand Ave. to find ways to alleviate traffic during the busy times of the day, between 3:30 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. during the week. Taylor Engineering Inc. in Pullman participated in the study.
“We had Taylor Engineering come in for the traffic study because they deal with parking, traffic and similar things all the time,” Gardes said. “Bringing in a consultant saves the city from wasting time educating staff on what to look for or what to expect.”
Professional Engineer and Project Engineer for Taylor Engineering Inc., Angela Taylor, didn’t directly work on the traffic study, but she has worked on other projects as a consultant.
“The hardest part for us is we have to give all perspectives possible,” Taylor said. “We look at the data and analyze it; sometimes the analysis isn’t great.”
A consultant’s job is to just give all perspectives; some are better suggestions than others, Taylor said.
“If we don’t suggest everything we find from the data, we’re not really doing our job,” she said. “Ultimately, our goal as engineers is to provide public safety.”
Pete Dickinson, Pullman’s Planning Director, also deals with hiring consultants. The planning department is working on the city’s comprehensive plan, which guides the city’s growth for the next decade or more.
The comprehensive plan is in the beginning stages of a two-year process, but to complete the project a consultant will be brought in, Dickinson said.
“We want the comprehensive plan to prepare the city for the future and grow Pullman toward a better tomorrow,” Dickinson said. “A consultant will be vital to giving us that alternative view to reaching that goal.”
1. Story on Turnitin.com
2. Outline: First I lead into the subject of the story: consultants. I give the background of how the city chooses a consultant through the eyes of Kevin Gardes. Then, I look at the consultants point of view, where they come from and how they do their job. Finally, I wrap with a brief mention of the current project that will require a consultant in the Comprehensive Plan.
Pullman City Planning Director Pete Dickinson: 509-338-3213
Professional Engineer & Project Engineer, Taylor Engineering Inc. Angela Taylor: 509-334-5115
Pullman City Public Works Director Kevin Gardes: 509-338-3217
4. Headline: An Extra Set of Eyes
Two Sentence Summary: The City of Pullman brings in consultants to aid with the future. How a consultant is brought in and what one does helps the city grow.
5. Outline structure: I wanted to start and end with the city with the consultant in the middle. I thought the most important part of the story was the timeline to hiring a consultant, then the consultant's perspective, finishing by rounding back to the the city and where they'll need a consultant next.