LEXINGTON, KY. (Feb. 7, 2012) – Mayor Jim Gray tod named Derek Paulsen, Ph.D., the city’s first commissioner principally dedicated to planning.
“I think all planning should be geared toward building a move livable city,” said Paulsen, a professor at Eastern Kentucky University and the current chair of the Planning Commission. A nationally recognized expert in building safe communities, Paulsen is also an expert on neighborhoods.
The Urban County Council included funding for the Planning Commissioner in the current budget. Establishment of the position was a priority Gray set in his “Fresh Start Plan” during the campaign.
The Mayor said Paulsen will focus on making Lexington more livable through growth, safety and preservation. “Cities all over the country have discovered that strong planning and good design are essential to economic development. They attract new companies that create new jobs essential to building a Great American City,” Gray said. “Derek will emphasize the importance of pro-active, strong planning and good design in every aspect of our planning process, encouraging projects that are investments in the Lexington “brand,” the qualities that make Lexington unique.
Gray said Paulsen’s project list includes:
• Modernizing and consolidating the city’s splintered planning and development agencies;
• Sharpening the focus on infill and redevelopment;
• Building an arts and entertainment district appropriate for a city of 300,000, and a metropolitan area of 600,000;
• Downtown revitalization and reinvention, specifically working through CentrePointe, the Rupp Arena, Arts and Entertainment District, the Distillery District, among others;
• Stepping up enforcement and identifying new incentives to address abandoned and neglected buildings;
• Managing the Comprehensive Plan Update now underway, which Paulsen says represents an opportunity to “re-imagine the city we want to live in”;
• Maintaining a commitment to the Purchase of Development Rights land preservation initiative; and
• Making the Division of Historic Preservation more business friendly, inviting, accessible, and efficient.
The new Department will include the Divisions of Planning, Historic Preservation, Purchase of Development Rights and the New Development Section of Engineering. (The New Development Section reviews new development construction plans and inspects infrastructure.)
In addition to his hands-on service on the Planning Commission, Paulsen has been a part of several local planning initiatives including the Lexington Downtown Entertainment Taskforce, 2008; the Central Sector Small Area Plan, 2008; the East End Small Area Plan, 2008; and chair of the Abandoned and Vacant Property Task Force.
Paulsen holds a Ph.D. from Sam Houston State University in Texas. He is a life-long Lexington resident. He and his wife, Stacey, have two boys.
Paulsen’s appointment is subject to Council approval. His confirmation hearing is set for Feb. 16.