Katie Kemezis has broadened her horizons, from McMinnville’s Historic Downtown District to the entire city limits of McMinnville.
Her job title has changed from executive director of Main Street McMinnville to community planner for McMinnville government within its Community Development Department.
“I am thrilled at the opportunity to serve the public as the community planner and to work for the city of McMinnville,” said Kemezis. “I have gotten to work closely with the staff of the Community Development Department as the Main Street director and appreciated their forward thinking outlook that they serve as a partner to citizens and the development community.”
Kemezis said the job of community planner is to organize strategic growth in the city, as opposed to haphazard growth.
“The goal of planning is to maximize the health, safety, and economic well-being of all people living in the community,” said Kemezis. “This involves thinking about how we can move around the community, how we can attract and retain thriving businesses, where we want to live, and opportunities for recreation. Planning helps create communities of lasting value.”
While architects often focus on a single building, Kemezis said a planner’s job is to work with residents and elected officials to guide the layout of an entire community or region. Planners take a broad view and look at how the pieces of a community — buildings, roads, and parks — fit together like pieces of a puzzle. Planners then make recommendations on how the community should proceed.
“One of the greatest challenges for planners is to imagine what can and should happen to a community, how it should grow and change, and what it should offer residents 10, 15, or even 20 years into the future,” said Kemezis.
While all that sounds like a lot, Kemezis says she’s up for the challenge.
“At Main Street, I spent a lot of time thinking about the design of the public realm, the importance of zoning to protect property values and keep people safe, development requirements, and many other matters in the downtown district,” she said. “I’ll now be thinking about these same matters as they relate to different zoning districts – there will certainly be more and different considerations but the basic questions and framework for thinking about development remains the same.”
Kemezis has a master of science degree in architecture, history and theory from the University of Washington, a certificate of historic preservation, and was program manager at AIA Seattle, where she collaborated with architects on design issues and also organized events.