By Nathan Mayberg
MONTICELLO June 4, 2004 Bill Pammer has returned home.
And its quite the welcome. The new Commissioner of Planning and Community Development in Sullivan County will be faced with balancing a rushing river of developers with those who want the county to retain its rural character.
Sullivan County is at the threshold of its development, he said during a press conference introducing the area native on Wednesday.
The countys population is now growing about seven percent a year, Pammer added.
In 14 years, the county will have already become designated as an urban area, forecast Pammer. The county needs to be prepared, he emphasized. The municipalities need to be informed.
My career has taken me all over the U.S. and all over the world. . . . I have seen communities lose their character, he explained.
When he lived in Florida, there were times he couldnt even find his house due to all of the development.
Pammer intends to engage the public together with the county government in order to create a comprehensive strategic plan to deal with a range of issues, including:
sustaining economic growth
retaining ownership of natural resources
preserving rural feeling
fostering commercial growth
sense of nature
quality of life
The planning department will be sending out surveys to residents and holding meetings in the future to formulate a plan, he said. The first meeting is slated for June 30.
Pammer pledged to reach out to those in the community who are not regularly involved with the political process for what he called a stakeholder process. . . . We will reach out to the whole community . . . beyond special interest groups.
By 2005, Pammer expects the comprehensive plan to be completed as a living document.
Sound planning for the county will help make state and federal representatives jobs easier, he added.
Pammer stressed the need for quality public transportation, especially for those who cannot drive anymore. The local passenger railroad service which ended in the 1950s also hurt the county, he said.
Pammer is a graduate of Monticello High School. He holds a Ph.D. from the University of Oklahoma, where his studies focused on public policy and performance assessment. He also attended the State University of New York at Stony Brook as well as Sullivan County Community College. He worked his way through college at Schmidts Wholesale in Monticello.
Most recently, he was working with the United States State Department. He was selected as a Fulbright Scholar, where he collaborated with US AID on nation-building in Eastern Europe. Most of his time was spent in the Republic of Moldova, formerly a part of the Soviet Union. He was a senior development advisor for the Moldova Local Government Reform Project, and he taught public management classes at the Academy of Public Administration.
Pammer has designed public transit and housing programs throughout the country. In Florida, he worked with the Department of Healths Childrens Medical Services Division regarding the assessment of telemedicine in suspected child abuse cases.
Other prior work includes teaching public administration at Wright State University and a stint as a technical assistance consultant to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
In addition, Pammer has published several books and articles on planning and economic development. He presently sits on the editorial board for Public Administration Quarterly.