A bastion of suburban life in the 1970s, Chesterfield County began its climb in population just under 80,000 in 1970 to around 340,000 today. An unprecedented growth rate of 8.3 percent in building permits during the ’70s has yet to be surpassed in the 37 years since.
Some of the neighborhoods built in the years Chesterfield was growing now need a little attention, and a new County department is being formed to address the issues of aging neighborhoods.
It can be easy to identify some of the areas that need revitalization, such as the Jefferson Davis Highway, lower Hull Street and lower Midlothian corridors, but beyond that there are small community developments that have fallen into disrepair as well.
Chesterfield County is now developing a new department to focus on both the challenges of the revitalization of the old corridors and the inside neighborhood, which both need attention.
Kirk Turner, current director of the county’s planning department, will start at the new department once a new planning director is hired.
Applicants had until June 2 to submit résumés. County representatives are now holding focus group sessions to gather input that will be considered in screening and interviewing candidates for the position.
“This new effort won’t just be about revitalization, but will include 18 full-time positions,” said Bill Dupler, Director of Community Development. “The positions will not be new positions, but employees inside planning or other departments. Everyone is excited to join the team. We have one who will retire, but another who will not retire because he wants to stay on to be part of the new project.”
According to a press release June 20, the County began its national search for a new planning director May 1, following the announcement that Turner, had been named as the county’s director of community enhancement to focus on the care and maintenance of the county’s older communities.
In July of 2015 Carl Schlaudt became the key point of contact and coordinator for the County’s revitalization efforts, effectively consolidating revitalization efforts countywide. He facilitated the county’s Sustain Our Communities committee. Schlaudt will use his experience in revitalization to assist Turner in the huge amount of work that will need to be done to get the department up and running.
Focus groups with planning staff, department heads, and developers have been held to get a feeling for what is expected from a newly hired planning director: what should his or her qualities be; experience; does he come from a large or small community; the level of his education.
Citizens will get the opportunity to provide input about the knowledge, skills, and abilities they believe the county’s new director of planning should possess.
The session will be held July 5 at 5:30 p.m. in the Chesterfield County Public Meeting Room, 10001 Iron Bridge Road.