OTTUMWA — Jody Gates has been the city’s Health and Inspections and Solid Waste Director since 1996, and come June 3 she will be adding another title after her name: Director of Planning and Development.
Gates will not only retain her past duties, but will also be taking over for current Planning and Development Director Nick Klimek, who is leaving to pursue another position.
When Klimek informed city officials he will be leaving to pursue other endeavors, they decided instead of bringing someone new in to fill his shoes they would try to fill the position internally. Gates was the pretty obvious choice to ask, according to City Administrator Joe Helfenberger.
“There is already an overlap with housing and planning,” he said. “Jody [Gates] is very strong on personnel management, processes and policy, and that will be extremely helpful as we go through the transition.”
Gates said she already works with the Planning and Development Department on a pretty regular basis, and that familiarity with the type of work and employees will hopefully make the transition easy for everyone. Of course, she’s always up for something new and exciting, too.
“We’re all acquainted and work together on different projects, and I like doing and learning new things,” Gates said.
To help make the transition from one director to another go smoothly, Helfenberger said Klimek has been working very rigorously to make sure the numerous city projects stay moving.
“He [Klimek] is working so there aren’t any gaps in the projects and activities,” Helfenberger said. “He has been very conscientious with everything.”
One of the major projects in the works that Gates said she is most excited for is an entire reworking of the city’s zoning codes. The city will be hiring a private firm to come in and work with city officials to examine and make needed changes to the zoning codes that have been in place for decades, which will hopefully make it easier for businesses who want to come to Ottumwa.