In this podcast, City planning director Kathy Cook reflects back and reminisces about a remarkable 20-year career with the City of Bainbridge Island (COBI). Kathy is retiring this month from the important and publicly visible position of Director of Planning and Community Development.

Kathy was hired by COBI as a part-time administrator twenty years ago, and her experiences and responsibilities grew as COBI evolved and changed over those two decades. You’ll hear the respect and appreciation she feels for the community members she’s served and the staff she’s worked with.

The recording of this conversation, about six days prior to her last day at work, gave Kathy a chance to reflect and tell stories of a memorable career in a community she has always admired and appreciated. When asked about projects that were particularly satisfying, she recalls, for example:

– Developing the ordinances that implemented the Winslow Master Plan of the 1990s

– Participating in the revitalization of Winslow Way and the downtown area (the Winslow Way streetscape project, the gateway formed by the Art Museum and Kidimu, the T&C store remodel and Waypoint Park)

– Helping with the Special Area Plan for Lynwood Center when she first joined the City, and then watching the plan come to fruition over time.

When asked about the most controversial development project for a City that has had more than it’s share of controversy, her answer, quite surprisingly, was the 2008-10 planning process for the new Art Museum. Have a listen to hear why.

When asked about her most challenging role or duty, Kathy tells a story that is still painful to her emotionally, when she — as the newly appointed director of the Department — was required to respond to the devastating economic downturn of 2008 to 2011 by implementing large numbers of employee layoffs, and the ensuing efforts to restore morale as much as possible. It was a time when the City staff declined in number by roughly one-third over a 3-year period.

Kathy also shares stories about projects she found most complex, and the aspects of her work with the City that she has found the most interesting.

She concludes by mentioning several issues that she expects citizens will be wanting to address as the update of COBI’s Comprehensive Plan proceeds, and as timely issues for citizens and the community continue to assert themselves.

Credits: BCB host, audio editor and social media publisher: Barry Peters.