Westlake hires Jim Bedell as new director of planning and economic development

Jim Bedell takes over for Bob Parry as Westlake’s planning director.

The June 20 Westlake council meeting was an evening of comings and goings. Introduced to the community was newly hired planning and economic development director Jim Bedell, while retiring longtime public servants Richard Schultz and William Huffman were given resolutions for their service to the city of Westlake.

Bedell arrives from Bay City, Mich., with an extensive planning background, including working as manager of the planning department and supervisor of the engineering and community development departments over his 14-year tenure with the city. He began his career as a planner with the Bay County (Michigan) Planning Department after receiving a degree in landscape architecture from Michigan State University.

Bedell sees similarities between Bay City, which is located near Saginaw Bay on the eastern side of Michigan, and his new home of Westlake. “They’re similar in size, around 34,000 people,” he said. “I’m very impressed with Westlake. It’s a beautiful community, and it’s very progressive.”

Bedell, who has an ardor for all phases of the planning and development process, enjoys getting out of the office to visit construction sites. “I have a hard hat in my office that I’ve earned from the many construction management projects I’ve been involved in. I really love that part of it,” he said. “I used to watch ‘This Old House’ and wanted to be Bob Vila.”

Like his predecessor, retired planning and economic development director Bob Parry, Bedell has an enthusiasm for local history. He fondly recalled poring over early 20th-century newspapers at the local library to learn more about the 1905 merger of Bay City and neighboring West Bay City. “I have an interest in history and everywhere I move, I kind of adopt that area’s history as my own.”

Aside from being eager to learn about the history of his new town and to become engaged in all that makes Westlake a great place to live and work, Bedell has an avid desire to be part of his community. “Westlake, I absolutely love it. I feel right at home here,” he said.

City Council also honored two longstanding members of the community on June 20 with the presentation of resolutions for their many years of service and extending appreciation for their contributions to the welfare and progress of Westlake.
Dick Schultz was commended for his 28 years of commitment to the city including his outstanding service on the planning commission, the board of zoning appeals and city council from 1985 until March of this year.

Bill Huffman was recognized for his exemplary service on the planning commission, city council and as assistant law director, serving the City of Westlake for 22 years.

Following the reading of the resolutions, each council member spoke warmly of their experiences working with the two gentlemen and both were roundly applauded by the council and audience.

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Volume 5, Issue 13, Posted 11:12 AM, 06.25.2013