After more than 22 years, Dick Converse, the City's Contract Planner is retiring on April 30th. Dick has provided invaluable planning services to the City through his position at Rogue Valley Council of Governments.
WHAT DID YOU LIKE BEST ABOUT YOUR CAREER?
I liked working with a wide variety of staffs and residents. Even though the processes are similar from one place to the next, each community I’ve worked with is unique. Finding ways to make complicated planning issues understandable to both decision-makers and applicants made me feel I was contributing to the quality of decisions and the success of a community.
WHAT DID YOU LIKE LEAST ABOUT YOUR CAREER?
Code enforcement is a necessary but usually uncomfortable part of land use planning. It was always difficult to work with property owners who chose not to comply with regulations that they felt intruded on their personal freedoms. One particularly difficult period was the first 20 years when I was a planner for counties that are required by state law to strictly regulate development on productive farm and forest land. Several property owners who fought in World War II had bought land here when they were traveling between military bases on the west coast during the war. Upon retiring, they returned to start the process of building a house, only to find that the zoning prevented placement of a dwelling. That was tough.
WHAT IS THE BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT IN YOUR CAREER?
Professionally, I received a Lifetime Achievement award in 2017 from the Oregon Chapter of the American Planning Association. A big factor in that award was my work with small communities in Jackson and Josephine counties. Personally, my most satisfying achievement was helping staff members learn to interact with the public effectively and compassionately.
WHAT IS THE FIRST THING YOU WANT TO CROSS OFF YOUR BUCKET LIST AFTER RETIREMENT?
I’m planning to travel to Great Britain and France in June.
WHAT IS ONE PIECE OF ADVICE THAT YOU’D LIKE TO PASS ON TO ALL OF YOUR COLLEAGUES?
When working with clients, use the “yes, if . . .” rather than the “no, unless . . .” mindset. It will really affect your perspective