Feb 2 2014

Contract with City Administrator from Oregon on Council Agenda Feb 3

– New City Administrator will Transition from a Lumber and Fisheries Town to Piedmont – 

Piedmont’s recently chosen City Administrator, Paul Benoit, is scheduled to assume his Piedmont duties on March 1, 2014.  The contract  with Benoit agreed to by the City Council during contract negotiations will be acted upon publicly at the February 3, 2014 Council meeting in City Hall.  He is to receive a salary of $200,000, an increase over his current $165,750 salary as City Manager of Astoria, Oregon according to the Astoria budget.

Benoit has spent 25 years in Astoria, Oregon:17 as Community Development Director and; since 2005, as City Manager. While the population of Astoria is similar in size to Piedmont, it’s land area is far greater and it is a former industrial city.

Fishing, fish processing and lumber have been the lifeblood of Astoria, with 30 canneries located along its waterfront.  In the 1970’s and 1980’s the canneries closed and the lumber industry declined. The last large employer, Astoria Plywood Mill, closed in 1989.  Railroad service to Astoria ended in 1996. City Data Inc. reports that the median household income was $37,161 in Astoria in 2011. Benoit commented that the very different nature of the Piedmont community would provide a welcome challenge for him.  “I love getting to know a community and being a part of it.”  Benoit has a son, daughter-in-law and grandson residing in Alameda.

Photos funded by the University of Oregon offer an introduction to Astoria:



Pilings that once served the former canneries lining the Columbia River front of Astoria. Paul Benoit’s Marine Affairs degrees from the Department of Marine Affairs of the University of Rhode Island and from the College of Ocean and Fishery Sciences of the University of Washington made him a natural fit with Astoria’s marine industries.



Astoria’s more recent pattern of development built on suburban parking-oriented pads siphoned off retail from downtown, creating vacant storefronts in the core — a challenge faced by many American cities.



In 2012 the Astoria Downtown Association hired Civilis Consultants to formulate a strategy for bringing life back to vacant storefronts in downtown Astoria. Thus far, Civilis has produced the “Building Blocks for a Successful Downtown project” report.  Research, assessment and workshops continue to explore Astoria’s possibilities for the future. Nearby, Cannon Beach and Seaside, Oregon have active, walkable downtowns that may serve as models for Astoria,  according to consultants.

photos copyright Patrick S. McGovern (by permission)

see 23 Astoria photos sponsored by University of Oregon Benjamin & Louise Carroll Visiting Urban Politics Professorship

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