The search for a new community development director in Astoria has narrowed.
City Manager Brett Estes told the Astoria City Council Tuesday night that he closed the job posting and has whittled the list of applicants down to a group of just under 10 prospects. He will bring that number down to three or four people by the end of this week. The applicants who make the cut will then go through a rigorous interview process that includes a public meet-and-greet, interviews with city department heads and with a citizen review panel as well as an interview with Estes.
Estes, who was formerly the city’s community development director and has been serving as the interim director since October, hopes to begin scheduling interviews over the next month or so.
The city has been without a full-time community development director since Kevin Cronin left the job in October amid concerns about his management of the department. His departure came amid a wave of department head retirement announcements starting with the sudden retirement of the former police chief Brad Johnston and ending with long anticipated retirement announcements from Public Works Director Ken Cook and Fire Chief Ted Ames.
City Engineer Jeff Harrington has since been promoted to take over as public works director, and Ames announced he would be staying on in an interim capacity to ease the process as the city continues to search for a new fire chief.
In other business Tuesday, the City Council:
• Unanimously approved a one-year agreement with Jessica Schleif, a local artist, gardener and landscape designer, for the maintenance and beautification of a long neglected park on Marine Drive.
Schleif and two other artists plan to clean up Tide Rock Park, tucked below a small parking lot across the street from the Fort George Brewery and Blue Scorcher Bakery. They will create temporary art installations over the course of this year, a project they hope will involve community collaboration.
At a meeting in December, the council discussed Schleif’s proposal after questions were raised about what it means for the city to essentially sponsor a public art project. The council decided a vetting process was not required.
“It’s more of a beautification and maintenance of a historic park that I am really happy to see happen,” City Councilor Cindy Price said.
• Approved a liquor license for the new owners of the Labor Temple Diner and Bar on Duane Street. City Councilor Zetty Nemlowill did not vote, saying Todd and Teresa Robinett’s business is a client of her husband’s business, Fort George Brewery.
• Elected City Councilor Tom Brownson council president, with Councilor Bruce Jones jokingly proclaiming, “I know that President Brownson will make Astoria great again.”