A former Cannon Beach mayor will assist Astoria’s Community Development Department while the city searches for a new director.
Mike Morgan, who was Cannon Beach’s mayor from 2009 until 2015, will serve as interim city planner, helping City Planner Nancy Ferber tackle various projects in the department while the city searches for a replacement for former Community Development Director Kevin Cronin. City Manager Brett Estes, himself a former Astoria community development director, will act as interim director in the meantime.
Cronin, who was hired in 2015, announced in September that he was leaving the department to pursue other opportunities. His last day was Friday.
This isn’t the first time Morgan has taken on city planning work with the city.
His time with Astoria dates back to the 1970s and he was the city planner from 1987 to 1991. He has also served as interim city planner before, most recently to fill a gap in 2015 after longtime planner Rosemary Johnson retired.
“I’ve seen something like four decades of development here,” Morgan said.
When he learned Cronin was leaving, he offered his services to the city. He will be in the Community Development office three days a week. At 71 years old, he’s not interested in applying for Cronin’s old job.
“I’m happy to have my freedom and help the city find a good person,” he said.
Estes said the cost of hiring Morgan will depend on how long Morgan will need to stay on as interim planner, but it will cost less than paying a director’s salary.
He said the city is also looking at how to use some of the salary savings to have planners with the Columbia River Estuary Study Taskforce review more permits. The organization works with cities and agencies along the Columbia River estuary in Oregon and Washington state, and already reviews some permits for Astoria. Planners there could have the capacity to take on more, Estes said.