Walter Veselka
Walter Veselka

Public Works Director
City of Bristol, Conn.
Employees: 120
Population Served: 61,000
Budget: $13.3 million

Advances in communications hardware and software have simultaneously eased and complicated life for public works professionals.

E-mail and GIS-based automated phone calling made sharing construction schedules, street closings, storm warnings, emergency parking bans, and other information much faster. Information now travels as easily in the opposite direction, with residents using smartphones to alert public works to assets that need repairing or replacing.

An excellent working relationship is a two-way street.

On the other hand, anyone can use the phone to visually capture and immediately share the actions of infrastructure managers and their employees.

Public Works Director Walter Veselka doesn’t mind this mixed blessing. A multijurisdictional collaborator and member of local committees, he immediately recognized social media’s potential for public works.

In 2012, his department launched the city’s first Facebook page, that was followed by a Twitter page. The department even shared Public Works articles.

Veselka applies his two-way communications philosophy to elected officials as well as residents.

“It’s important to be responsive to their concerns without losing sight of what’s possible and practical within budget, policy, and the department’s ultimate goals,” he says. “Saying yes when possible and offering alternatives or logical reasons when it’s not go a long way toward being positively received.”