When not doing masonry work on the Aztec Ruins National Monument gateway walls or designing and building the furniture in his office, Kotyk, a self-described "jack of all trades and master of none," turns to his Web page programming skills to help citizens keep abreast of plans and projects. Before coming to the city, Kotyk worked as an archeologist for the Zuni tribe and later at San Juan College. He holds a degree in anthropology.
Recently, he has expanded the city's website with a baker's dozen of this year's major projects, including ongoing work on the arterial highway and improvements to Hartman and Riverside parks.
The alphabetized list, found at http://www.aztecnm.gov/plans/projects.htm, makes available PDF files for each project that contain easily accessible and understandable information, with labeled maps, images and a succinct summary of the work.
"What we've heard from Aztec citizens is that they want to know what's in the works, what's on the horizon and to have it be easy to find and make sense," Kotyk said. "I use HTML (a Web programming language) and CSS (for building Web pages) as opposed to flashier software because it loads quickly, looks clean and is easily readable on any device."
Kotyk admits the site isn't as visually dazzling as some websites, but believes the city online priority is to simply and clearly share information with citizens.
"Many, if not all, of these projects are complex and involve a lot of stages that can often be sidelined or delayed for any number of reasons, from budgeting to weather," he said. "So I try to keep the information about them to a user-friendly minimum, including only what I imagine most people will care about and leaving the complicated particulars out. If anyone wants more information, they can always call City Hall and they will be directed to the particular point person on the given project with more."
Kotyk said they have made great strides in communicating with the public about the many workings of city government in the years he has been projects manager.
"Ten years ago the atmosphere was more negative - frustrations with the commission at the time, the way the city went about informing the public - but that has changed dramatically," he said. "And while we don't see the stronger local TV coverage we used to, the city uses social media like Twitter and Facebook and the website to make our work plain to see. The feedback has been largely positive."
Kotyk credits the leadership of City Manager Joshua Ray for the progress.
"That was one of the principal things Josh wanted to do when he arrived (in 2010)," Kotyk said. "He's been a driving force to get more transparency and efficiency - and to squeeze every dollar out of the budget."
The city actually saves on Kotyk's digital efforts since it doesn't have a public relations position included in the budget.
"Ed is a one in a hundred thousand employee," Ray said. "He has the ability and knowledge to write policies for the city and to get outside and build amazing structures. As project manager, Ed provides the highest level of efficiency and effectiveness that anyone could ask for. Our City is better because of Ed Kotyk."
The city's online presence has improved the back-and-forth discussion with residents, said Chris Duthie, the city's tourism and marketing supervisor.
Duthie, with Community Development Director Roshana Moojen and Code Compliance Officer Matthew Clark, handles the city's social media accounts.
"One nice thing about sites like Facebook and Twitter is that we can help people get a lot of early notification - be it a street closure, a sewer line break or special event update - that keeps people up to speed," Duthie said. "Traditional media might slow that open line of communication down to a couple weeks in some cases."
Kotyk is proud of the city's march to improvement and has a special interest in one project coming up this summer, a project clearly listed on the city's webpage, of course.
"I'll be working hands-on on the Aztec Ruins Gateway project," he said, "From early morning till mid afternoon, I'll be involved with the masonry of the walls, which is a lot of fun and it's going to look great."
James Fenton can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org; 564-4621. Follow him on Twitter @fentondt