Aberdeen’s Community Development Director Lisa Scott has a lot of irons in the city’s fires. She leads efforts to create an Historic Preservation Plan, an update of Chapter 8 of the city’s master plan through the Planning Commission. When a business or new development wants to build or rebuild in town, chances are the issues surrounding its establishment will cross her desk on the second floor of City Hall. She likes to help forge collaborative efforts to accomplish goals. That collaboration helped her create the Aberdeen Historic Register and preservation plan to be unveiled this fall. Scott, the Planning Commission, and city officials plan to tackle zoning next. As someone who says she prefers to be out of the spotlight, she is even known to push a broom to help with cleanup efforts in the downtown corridor. Born in Oakland, Calif., Scott has deep roots on the Harbor. She graduated from Montesano High School, Grays Harbor College and Eastern Washington University. She lives in the area with her husband of 12 years, Ron, and a son, Shawn, who is 16. After college she returned to Aberdeen and worked for the Port of Grays Harbor for eight years before coming to work for the city.
As Community Development Director, you are creating a Historic Preservation Plan for Aberdeen, how do you think looking to the past will help the City in the present and future?
Aberdeen was fortunate to receive a grant through the Washington State Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation which the city matched. This enabled us to hire a consultant to help guide us through creating, not only an Historic Preservation Plan for the city, but a five year work plan with achievable goals relating to historic preservation. I think that our community is looking for an identity.
Aberdeen is so rich with natural resources, timber, fish and shipping/boat building just to name a few that stopping to take a few minutes to remember what we used to be can only be beneficial in guiding our future. I personally think that we should not stray too far from who we were.
You have talked about how collaboration of the city departments is key. Describe how city government heads work together to get a project done?
The City of Aberdeen has a population just shy of 17,000 and does not have a city manager, instead we have nine Department Heads. With direction from the mayor and city council, we work together to help run the city. We meet as a team once a week to discuss budgets, issues, projects, etc. and we as a team understand that we are there to help make the City of Aberdeen a better place to live. There is not one of us that puts personnel issues ahead of the team and because of that reason we all work very well together. Recently we had to replace two of our key management staff and two things we valued as a team were finding qualified candidates that will help us grow and finding individuals that would blend well with our family. Each of us working together help us get projects done. Our Parks Department needs our Public Works Department, just as our Fire Department needs water to put out fires.
What is the biggest challenge facing the city in terms of planning?
Harnessing the energy and ideas of all the community groups and having the time, staff and money to push projects forward.
There appears to be a confluence of efforts to improve Aberdeen. How do the department and commissions you supervise fit in to that array of effort? What do you see as hopeful signs of the future in terms of those efforts?
The Planning Commission and the Historic Preservation Commission have been very active over the last two years in helping to create positive changes in Aberdeen. I have wonderful, intelligent and proactive board members that help make the difference. Without their volunteer efforts and hours they put in I don’t think we would be seeing some of the positive changes lately. The boards and commissions help guide city policy. They recommend changes to city council and the mayor on how to better serve our citizens through land use regulations, preservation and protection.
What is the best part and the toughest part of having a teenager?
The best part is getting to watch them grow up and to see how the direction that you have helped to give them influences and guides them in decisions they make. There is no greater reward than someone mentioning that you have a wonderful child, very polite and a pleasure to have around. The toughest part is missing a lot of activities because I am at a lot of night meetings.
What books are you reading? What music are you listening to? Movies? Television?
My tastes are very eclectic. Right now I am reading “Under the Dome” by Stephen King. I am listening to a lot of Maroon 5. I just watched “Trouble with the Curve,” a good feel good movie. Since it is summer season, most television is reruns, but during the fall and winter I enjoy Criminal Minds.
What is your favorite off hour activity?
If you could invite whomever you wanted to a dinner party, who would you pick? What would you serve?
I love this question, I have asked myself this a thousand times and my answers always change, so today this is my dinner guest list: John Hughes, Robert Redford, Bill Gates, Bill Clinton, Mark Twain, Hank Aaron, Abraham Lincoln, Sandra Day O’Connor, Madeleine Albright and Olympia Dukakis. I would serve seafood from the Northwest, steak and great wine.