Monday, June 20, 2011


Anniversaries are one of those things, you either recall or don't think about at all (insert bad married man joke). June 1st, I had two anniversaries, per say. I actually planned on writing this blog entry around then, but had some things arise, so please enjoy this slightly late missive.

Back in 1997 I began my affiliation with the City on June 1, as an intern with the Planning Department. Ten years later I was promoted to Director of the department on that date.

In 1997, I was graduating college. I had a bachelor's degree in American Studies (social history), and Political Science. I had interned at the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, for then Secretary Henry Cisneros. I review the various successes of a program known as Empowerment Zones. These were economic development and housing initiatives. After a few months, I knew the Federal government was not for me, and thought about a more local government career.

For my American Studies degree, I had to complete a final paper/project that would now be called a capstone project. For this project I elected to document the waterfront redevelopment progress here in Dover, at that time.

For that process I first visited this office, and met with then Planning Director, Steve Stancel. In March of 1997, I contacted Stancel and offered my services as an intern for the summer. My plan at the time was to try planning, as an intern, and then decide where I'd do my graduate work. June 1, I stated my internship.

A year later, I became a full time employee in the Community Services Department operating the City's Geographic Information System. During that time, I went to grad school while working full time and starting a family. Looking back I am shocked my wife put up with it. Glad, but shocked.

In 2002, I transferred back to the Planning Department and five years later, when Mr. Stancel moved on, I moved up, on June 1, 2007.

So, on June 1 2011, I was a bit reflective. It is always a fun and dangerous exercise to think about where we are and what is going on in our lives. Some things are a lot different, and others are not so much. Many of the people in the department were here in 1997. Of course, there were drafting tables and large map cases, and now we use computers and smaller tables/desks for everything.

My workspace has moved 6 times in that 14 years. In fact, I think the office I am in now, might be tied for the one I have had the longest. I shared space three times, and I don't mean cubicle space, but two people in one office.

Best projects, are good things to think about. The first project I worked on as an intern, always stands out. The City had just completed the Alder Lane project, off Glenwood Avenue. This project was a relocation of homes and then via lottery bringing those houses to low income owners. I remember moving the appliances in and doing some last minute work to help get the homes ready for their owners.

I am very grateful for the McConnell Center Project. It was rewarding personally and professionally. Best part of that was taking my mother in law, who like me, went to school in the McConnell Center, when it was a high school (Jr. high for me), and taking her through mid construction, and then again when it was complete, and seeing the building through her eyes.

The City drafting and adopting the State's first form based code for downtown development has been very cool. It was challenging and rewarding, and has continued to be so. Tied to this was a project where we cleaned up the code. I used the theory that you shouldn't need a Master's in Planning or a land use law background to read the land use code, so we chopped and culled deadwood out of the ordinance and made it more reader/end user friendly.

To be fair, the tit for tat, of the successes have been some follies. In 2000 I remember documenting a water main break off Littleworth Road. Not sure why I was there, but I got too close to the edge of the work area, and tumbled into the muck and hole. I got ribbing for that from the crew for a while. I did, in my defense, save the digital camera (this big hulking camera) from getting damaged.

Second one, was having to go to Waste Management (maybe 2003), and dig through the recycling, because some files had been placed too close to the recycling bin and the janitor had collected and recycled the files. Four of us went to dig through the bags and bins at the Rochester land fill and eventually we found everything.

There has been a lot more (good and bad), but I'd rather focus on where we are going. I am looking forward to another 17 years or so (I want an even 30). We'll see where things go, and hope that they are well planned no matter where we head.

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