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Baird named new director
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FILE PHOTO: David Baird - photo by Lisa Hobbs

McMinnville’s Commu-nity Development Department has new leadership from a former employee. 

“I’m happy to be back,” said David Baird. “Thirteen years ago, I did the job that community planner Katie Kemezis does now. I worked under Jim Brock. I moved to Chattanooga, but I always felt that McMinnville would be a great place to raise a family. I’m married now and we have young children. When this position opened up, I applied for it with the hopes I could return and my children would be raised here.”

Baird reflected on then and now. 

“I’m impressed with the strides that have been made downtown since I was last here. There have been a lot of changes for the better. We have a lot more storefronts that are open. When I was here before, the Fraley’s building … I think dividing that up was a great direction for that property. It was a smart decision by the owners. That whole block had not redeveloped yet. It has now.”

Within his bucket list of things to do is bringing the properties on Morford Street into the revitalized loop. 

“I want to work with Main Street McMinnville on redeveloping Morford Street. By that I don’t necessarily mean the street scape, but I would like to get to where we have the same move towards building redevelopment as we do on Main. Redevelopment is like water. It travels from the center source. You can see that here today. Redevelopment started with buildings in the Court Square area. More business in that key area joined in. Buildings on Spring Street have also been redeveloped. We need to continue that onto Morford.”

Baird wants to pursue grants which can be used to help bridge the gap between what needs to be done and available resources. 

“There’s a lot that the Community Development Department can do to help develop the community. We are going to be active in seeking out grants for the city. That’s something that we did not do 13 years ago, but we are doing now. I want to do more of that.”

The Community Development Department provides one-stop services for all planning, building and property maintenance activity within the city.

“I think people know what the Fire Department does, what the Police Department does and what Parks and Recreation does, but maybe not Community Development,” said Baird. “The most basic thing the department does is codes. We’ve got to make sure that what happened in Miami, doesn’t happen here. You’ve got to make sure that buildings are stable. You’ve got to make sure properties are maintained.”

Baird’s departure 13 years ago was a disappointment to his former boss.

“I wished him well, but I hated to see him leave,” said Brock. “I’m glad he’s back. I believe David will be an asset to the Community Development Department and the city of McMinnville.”

The new director was selected after a lengthy process.

“I’m very excited about coming back to McMinnville and having this opportunity,” said Baird. “I’d like to thank city administrator Nolan Ming and the Board of Mayor and Aldermen for making this decision. They had a number of candidates. I’m thankful they chose me.”

Baird’s first day on the job was Sept. 1.