People inspire work of new planning director

POULSBO — Though his job entails codes, maps and blueprints, Barry Berezowsky says he finds his real enjoyment in another aspect of planning.

“It has to be the people,” Berezowsky commented. “I wouldn’t do this if I didn’t enjoy the diverse population of people who come into our office on a daily basis. I’ve never understood how people could do this kind of work without having an affinity for relationships. So much of what we do is communication.”

After nearly five years with the City of Poulsbo, Berezowsky is set to become the city’s chief planner, effective Jan. 1, 2004. The former senior planner, who has served as interim planning director since May, was recently named Poulsbo’s new planning director.

Glenn Gross previously held the seat for eight years, retiring in June.

Berezowsky, a planner for about 13 years, came to Poulsbo after working for Jefferson County.

His primary job was the county’s contentious Comprehensive Land Use Plan and he was attracted to Poulsbo for the chance to plan on a city level.

“The most enjoyable thing with working in Poulsbo is the people,” he commented. “They’re interested in what happens with their city. They’re not afraid to be involved and they work hard to enforce that involvement. Secondly, the City of Poulsbo is fortunate to have a high caliber of staff who have the support of the mayor and the council.”

Four candidates were interviewed for the position and Berezowsky was unanimously recommended by a hiring committee. Mayor Donna Jean Bruce said Berezowsky had the qualifications and inside knowledge of the job committee members wanted.

“He kind of worked as Glenn’s right hand man and he learned a lot from Glenn,” Bruce commented.

“I’d say his education and his proven ability to speak to the public and to all of us were his strongest attributes,” added Councilman Dale Rudolph, who sat on the hiring committee.

Rudolph added that he admires what he calls Berezowsky’s “ability to play well with others.” He’s witnessed the planner’s cooperation both with city staff and also with fellow planners through meetings of the Kitsap Regional Coordinating Council.

“He argues for Poulsbo’s point of view but really brings some intelligent discussion to it from his background,” Rudolph commented.

Born in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan and raised in the Vancouver, British Columbia area, Berezowsky holds a bachelor’s degree in geography from Simon Frasier University. He also has master’s degrees in geography and regional development from the University of Arizona and in urban planning from the University of Washington.

Early on in his education, Berezowsky took an interest in planning-related issues — though at the time he had no idea what he was headed for.

“I was always fascinated by the early settlers, the pioneers, who created cities out of nowhere because they thought the railroad would stop there or because they were next to a river,” he explained. “Basically, you’re looking at not only the physical form but also the cultural and social structure of a place. Later, I found out that they pay people to do this for a living.”

Besides working as a planner, Berezowsky has also been a hockey coach, water taxi operator, gas station and convenience store owner and steel mill shearing machine operator. On the planning side: he worked for an historic preservation consulting firm, doing work very similar to Poulsbo’s Old Town Study; was executive director of the Port Angeles Downtown Association representing 185 downtown businesses; and served in two capacities working on the very early documents that would eventually become Washington’s Growth Management Act.

“I haven’t spent a lot of time sitting around and doing nothing,” he commented with a laugh.

Berezowsky is a Seqium resident, where he lives with his wife and shares custody with his 10- and 12-year-old daughters, whose mother lives in Port Angeles. A self-proclaimed fidgeter, Berezowsky said his free time is spent with family, but always doing something.

“I spend a lot of time fussing around with our house and property,” he said. “I’m forever chasing the dog and taking care of the chickens and my wife and I enjoy gardening.”

And though he has chosen to live an hour from Poulsbo for personal reasons (“You work to live, not live to work,” he said), Berezowsky said he’s totally committed to the community of Poulsbo. The upcoming transition will include hiring a new associate planner to be able to fully staff his department for the first time since June.

Some of his short-term goals in his new position include introducing cross-training between the planning, engineering, building and public works departments to give staff a perspective of what their colleagues do and an updated planning web site including weekly updates on hot spots.

“Primarily, the goal is to be the darn best planning department in Kitsap County,” he commented. “And to build on what is a pretty solid reputation with those who utilize planning departments throughout the region.”

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