Everywhere he drives in Santa Clarita, Robert Newman can see something he has touched in one way or another when it comes to developing the City. That’s because since 1991 (except during a three-year hiatis when he worked in Calabasas), the Santa Clarita resident has seen to it as the Director of Public Works that whenever there is a project funded by actions set into motion by the City Council, he implements it with style.
Before the Golden Valley Road bridge opened, Newman took his family for a picnic dinner at the soon-to-be-opened thoroughfare, dropped the tailgate on his vehicle and showed off the fruits of his labor.
“Dad helped build this,” I told them.
His children, Ryan and Christina have been the beneficiaries of his job in more ways than one. They participated in the city’s “Bring Your Child to Work” day where they got to ride an authentic bull-dozer and attend a city council meeting. And don’t think they are saved from their Dad’s bragging rights as he points out numerous projects he headed up in conjunction with other City department heads, including construction of the City’s Sports Complex, the Aquatics Complex, parks and first-class bike trails, median landscaping and new road construction. Floods of reports, invoices, e-mails and phone calls were a regular part of his work day and continue to be in order to see these projects through to fruition.
“In some cities a Director of Public Works might never see through the construction of a new road, not here in Santa Clarita where I’ve helped build multiple new roads and bridges,” says Newman whose father, Guy Newman, was an engineer for the County of Los Angeles and owned a private engineering firm and whose grandfather, Owen Newman was also an engineer working on impressive projects including the St. Louis Archway in Missouri.
“I started working for my Dad at the age of 10 and he was hands down the hardest boss I’ve ever worked for,” says Newman.
Difficult comes when Newman is faced with repetitive complaints from city residents.
They call our office complaining that a tree isn’t trimmed, potholes are a nuisance, damaged sidewalks are uneven and requesting a stop sign for their block.
“Some problems are easy to solve and others aren’t,” says Newman, who not only listens to complaints but also manages a staff of about 150 employees who will do their best this year to efficiently and effectively work with a $100 million capital improvement budget for Santa Clarita.
“My dream for the City is to continue to have it be a safe place, a community where we can build a future to enjoy ourselves and pass on to our children,” says Newman.
And that is just why he strives every day to stay on top of the details, big and small, of his very demanding and diverse job.
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