Orange Plaza Fountain
Park Plaza Fountain (Source: Ken Lund)

In a day and age where craftsmen are seldom heard of, Calsense has come across a group of people that embody the term and take it to heart. The team is the Parks & Facilities Division of the Community Services Department of the City of Orange, California. We have had the pleasure of working with staff “hands-on” for over twelve years and rarely do we see this level of commitment. The work they do, the care they show and their individual involvement should be the goal of every city and county.

This “Tree City”, with a population of over 139,800, has a motto “A Slice of Old Town Charm,” offering 22 parks and over six miles of bike trails and numerous equestrian trails. City staff maintain 22 city buildings, 14 public parking lots and overpass landscapes, 48 road medians, planters & parkway landscapes, 36 water well & reservoir sties, two landscape assessment districts and one community facilities district. In addition to maintenance of all of these facilities, they are also responsible for park development and renovation projects.

The Team Behind the Technology

The City of Orange team is lead by Dana Robertson, the Parks and Facilities Manager within the Community Services Department. Dana began with Orange in 2005 and has 15 years of experience in landscape construction and maintenance, including several years as a self-employed landscape contractor. He has also worked for Los Angeles County Parks and Recreation for 14 years; holding the titles of Trails Maintenance Supervisor and Regional Parks Superintendent.

Paul Miller, Park Maintenance Supervisor, has been with Orange for over five years and brings 32 years of experience in the landscape and construction industry. Paul oversees 195 acres of city parks and is responsible for maintenance of all park infrastructure, plus maintenance and operation of the Historic Santa Fe Train Depot and Orange Senior Center.

Dave Nobbs, Parks Maintenance Supervisor, is the newest to the team with a little over one year at the city, yet brings over 30 years of experience to the city as a past Golf Course Superintendent and landscape contractor. Dave oversees the City’s park maintenance contractor, tree contractor, and city staff.

From back left, clockwise: Dave Nobbs, Bill Bird, Glenn Kovac, Paul Miller, Dana Robertson and Tony Gallegos
From back left, clockwise: Dave Nobbs, Bill Bird, Glenn Kovac, Paul Miller, Dana Robertson and Tony Gallegos

Tony Gallegos, Parks Maintenance Lead Worker, has been with the City Of Orange for almost 12 years and holds 18 years of experience as a Landscape Supervisor. His responsibilities include irrigation, plumbing, concrete, park furniture, electrical, sport fields, community buildings and landscaping.

Bill Bird, Parks Maintenance Lead Worker, has been with the city for over 7 years and brings 20+ years of experience with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) plus construction and other trades. Bill manages seven parks and the bike trail, and provides oversight for irrigation, electrical, plumbing, playground equipment and all the facilities within the parks.

Glenn Kovac, Parks Maintenance Lead Worker, has been with the city for over 5 years and brings 28 years experience in the private landscape industry. Glenn is responsible for the daily maintenance and operations of eight City of Orange parks & facilities, plus two miles of bike trails along the Santiago Creek.

A Tool is Only as Good as its Users

True success is not simply found in the tools used, but rather in the implementation from its user. Tools create simplicity and optimize our normal processes, but you still need to have proper knowledge, care and a strategy for the task at hand in order to create great results.

Inside of CS3000 Wall-Mount Enclosure
Inside of CS3000 Wall-Mount Enclosure

Consider a car. Alone, it does not have the power to move you around from place to place. It’s an investment you need to know how to use, in addition to taking proper care of it over time, in order to have continued satisfaction. The same ideas can be applied to Irrigation Technology. The controller itself has a lot of power and customization, but the user must know what outcome it desires, and know which steps will lead them to that desired outcome. This requires proper training to teach users the management capabilities of the Calsense Resource Management System so that decisions are always made wisely and efficiently.

The Parks & Facilities Division of the Community Services Department of the City of Orange truly shine above the rest, showing care and attention to detail in all the work they do. Their staff meticulously labels all wires, bundling off sections to keep the enclosures organized and accessible for anyone. This also provides a stress-free environment for work, allowing users to maintain productivity instead of worrying about maintenance and up-keep constantly. The City of Orange consistently shows pride in the work they do by maintaining a high standard of quality- which many Irrigation professionals fail to reach due to the thought that their workstations may feel “out of sight and out of mind.”

There is also a misconception that automated technology removes the need for human oversight and management. On the contrary, irrigation controllers require an understanding of plant types, soil health and other landscaping knowledge in order to properly make the most of a controller’s many features. The City of Orange team has decades of experience in related fields, which have provided them the intelligence and skills necessary to transform data and settings into a cohesive and successful water and labor management system that works.

It is truly amazing what can be accomplished from a group of experienced professionals that care about their work and their city. Considering the pedigree between this team, the residents and visitors of the City of Orange are truly blessed.