In their regular meeting Monday, Blaine City Council voted to authorize a separation agreement with Terry Galvin who has served as the city’s director of community development for nearly 10 years.
Citing recent pressure from developers who argue the city is too difficult to do business with, city council members Bonnie Onyon and John Liebert said the agreement was a sad but necessary step given the city of Blaine’s image in the eyes of the development community.
“We’re looking to be more hospitable for development,” he said. “In a way, this is sad, but we need to get a new shot in the arm.
“Terry’s effectiveness as a director was not producing what we were looking for. This was a mutual thing that came over time.”
Liebert added the decision had nothing to do with recent mudslinging attacks from Blaine City Council candidate John George, who accused Galvin of breaking city code for dating a fellow city employee.
“This was not in retribution, this was for the betterment of the community and we all agreed,” he said. “Terry has done so many positive things for the community, it doesn’t have anything to do with John George or Joel Douglas – they were never even brought up in the discussion.”
Galvin, who was appointed by city manager Gary Tomsic in July, 2000, spearheaded and helped implement many improvement projects in Blaine including the boardwalk, which would be funded through impact fees from development downtown; park and trail improvements along Semiahmoo spit and a pedestrian and bicycle path along a dangerous section of south Peace Portal Drive. He also negotiated with Trillium to concentrate development at the end of Semiahmoo spit in order to maintain unbroken open areas.
Tomsic spoke of Galvin as a highly productive individual who was an asset to the city and that he was sorry to see him leave.
“Terry is an outstanding planner, visionary and problem solver,” he said in a written statement. “His hard work and vision will benefit the community for many years to come. I will miss him as an integral part of my management team.”
Galvin said while the politics surrounding small town planning are often difficult, he thinks Blaine has great potential and hopes the city can get back to the issues.
“Planners typically have a seven to 10-year lifecycle before they lose their credibility and become the object of contention from developers,” he said, adding that recent accusations from Blaine City Council candidate John George and developer Joel Douglas have added to his frustrations. “I would like to see this community get back to the real issues.”
Galvin said that while he has not made a final decision, he has had several job offers from private planning firms. In the meantime, he said he is looking forward to taking a few months off to work on remodeling his Fairhaven home and “enjoy life.”
“I’m going to go do good somewhere I can enjoy,” he said. “Still, it’s unfortunate when good people leave good jobs because the environment is so volatile. We planners in the public sector aren’t in it for the money.”
In the meantime, Tomsic said he will promote Michael Jones to the department director position. Jones came to the city from Ferndale in 2007 and currently serves as the senior planner responsible for all land use permitting Tomsic told the city council that, given the current budget challenges, he does not plan to hire a new planner at this time. The net impact will be that the department will be working with one less professional staff. Galvin will receive three months of his regular salary.