City decides to combine development jobs
After two unsuccessful attempts to hire a new community development director, Glenwood Springs leaders are looking to combine the duties of the position with one of City Council’s long-range goals.
The city is now taking applications for a new economic and community development director who would both oversee the community development department and work with the city manager, consultants and other organizations on ways to grow the local economy.
“This is something we have talked about for at least as long as I’ve been on council and has been a priority of council over the last two years,” said Mayor Michael Gamba, who has served as a council member for going on six years now.
The challenge has been to determine how best to create such a position, Gamba said, and whether it should be in conjunction with the chamber or another local government entity, or perhaps through the formation of a separate entity.
“I am very excited about it, and I think it’s a step in the right direction,” he said.
Combining the community and economic development director jobs came at the recommendation of City Manager Debra Figueroa, who has been trying to find a successor for longtime community development director Andrew McGregor since his departure last August after 24 years with the city.
Two rounds of applications didn’t pan out, although it was one of the finalists for the position who suggested combining the two jobs, Figueroa said.
“That gave me an opportunity to think about how we wanted to structure the position, and it made sense if the city wants to be more active in economic development to combine them,” Figueroa said.
The job is being advertised on the city website as paying an annual salary of between $75,539 and $113,309, depending on qualifications. Among the qualifications are a bachelor’s degree in urban planning, public administration or related field, plus 10 years experience or a master’s degree and five years’ experience in urban planning and economic development, and a minimum of three years of supervisory experience.
Figueroa added that Gretchen Ricehill, longtime senior planner and interim community development director, will become assistant community development director under the restructuring. That should allow for some internal separation of the community development and economic development aspects of the newly combined department functions, she said.
Gamba acknowledged that the potential for competing economic development and community or neighborhood interests when it comes to land-use planning is something the city will need to guard against.
“The two are closely related, in that there is very little that’s economic development related that would not go through the community development department,” he said. “That is something we will need to explore in terms of how that can be managed, and make sure there are policies in place to avoid conflicts.”
Figueroa said she is confident that, by separating the duties within the department and with her and City Council’s oversight, there would be enough checks and balances in place.
The city intends to keep the application process open until the position is filled, which would ideally be sometime in March, Figueroa said.
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Imagine Glenwood and The City of Glenwood Springs is slated to host a virtual town hall at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, March 11.