BRAINERD – Brainerd is looking for a new director of community development after David Chanski tendered his resignation to the city in late March.
Chanski, who was hired as the city’s first director of community development in December 2018, will leave the city on April 22 to become city administrator at Breezy Point.
Chanski said in a Monday, April 4, phone interview that his career aspiration has always been to be a city administrator, so the opportunity at Breezy Point was one he couldn’t pass up.
While he didn’t necessarily plan to stay in the Brainerd Lakes area long-term when he and his wife moved here in 2018 — because he grew up in the Twin Cities and she’s from Texas — this plan changed as soon as they arrived.
“We moved here and immediately fell in love and decided this was where we wanted to be for the long term; this is where we want to raise our family,” he said.
Chanski came aboard Brainerd on December 31, 2018, after the retirement of town planner Mark Ostgarden. Upon Ostgarden’s retirement, the city restructured some of its staff, creating the Community Development Department, which includes departments such as planning and zoning, building security, and economic development.
During his roughly three-and-a-half years in that role, Chanski said he believes he helped make the department a highly functional and highly responsive department.
“I have an absolutely wonderful team that I will miss very much,” he said. “…One of the things I’m most proud of here is just the regular praise the department receives from residents or contractors who only praise the department for how easy it is to work.”
Customer service, he said, has always been a priority.
“The 14,000 people who live in Brainerd, they are our customers, and I believe they deserve the highest level of service, and that’s what we strive for,” he said.
Among his accomplishments, Chanski noted the complete plan update in 2019 and the rewrite of the zoning code which is nearing completion. Over the past 18 months, staff and planning commission members have worked with consultants on a new zoning code that aligns with the overall plan and represents the city both as it is today. today and where she wants to be in the future.
Chanski was one of the finalists in 2019 for the position of administrator of the city of Brainerd, which ultimately went to Jennifer Bergman.
Now, Chanski looks forward to continuing the good work at Breezy Point that he said past administrators and current and former boards have already put in place.
“My goal is really not to go out there and turn things around or change things, but really to keep going on the right path,” he said. “They have some of their own challenges coming up in the next few months to a few years, some infrastructure projects, road projects. It is also a growing city. They may only be a city of 2,500 on paper, but the way they’re supposed to grow, they could be a city pushing 4,000 by 2030, and growth has its own challenges, à la times simply, ‘What does that do to a community character?’ as well as, ‘What does this mean organizationally?’ It is therefore sufficient to continually guide this organization through these changes and challenges.
Members of Brainerd City Council accepted Chanski’s resignation on Monday and agreed to appoint deputy planner James Kramvik as acting director of community development during the hiring process. The council also created a task force with human resources director Kris Schubert, city administrator Jennifer Bergman and council members Gabe Johnson and Mike O’Day to oversee the hiring process.
Chanski’s last day with Brainerd is April 22 and he will start at Breezy Point on April 25.
“It’s been a privilege, and thank you for giving me this opportunity,” Chanski told the board on Monday.
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