Berkley council honors outgoing city planner

By: Mike Koury | Woodward Talk | Published July 26, 2017



BERKLEY — Outgoing City Planner Amy Vansen, who was first hired in 1999, was honored by the City Council during its meeting July 17.

The council read a resolution in Vansen’s honor and for her years of service to the city, which read in part, “The character of Berkley neighborhoods and business districts have been influenced and improved by Ms. Vansen’s professional work ethic as an administrator, and her knowledge of architecture and planning.”

Vansen is leaving the city to begin working as the director of information and programs for the Michigan chapter of the American Planning Association, a chapter known as the Michigan Association of Planning.

During the meeting, several members of the Planning Commission — whom she worked with closely — residents and council members took time to say a few words about working and interacting with Vansen.

“It’s been my honor, Amy, to be able to work under you,” Planning Chairman David Barnett said. “You’ve been such a wonderful person to work with. Your knowledge has been extraordinary. You’re abilities to communicate well with all of the Planning Commission, and with me especially, has just been absolutely fantastic. I’m sorry to see you leave, but I know that the chapter for the (American Planning Association) is going to love you, and you’re going to do a great job there.”

Resident Shirley Hansen recounted her first meeting with Vansen, which took place at a local home expo, and complimented her vast knowledge of planning.

“Whether it was the development of property on Woodward or an individual homeowner that had a question, I never worried about being able to give them an answer, because I knew when I came to see Amy, she would lay everything out and tell me all the details,” she said. “I love her. She’s been a terrific asset to your city and I consider her a friend.”

The resolution also highlighted some of Vansen’s contributions to the city, such as her support for events like the Berkley Art Bash and CruiseFest, her management of the architectural design process for the potential renovation of Berkley City Hall, and how she secured roughly $450,000 in grant funds for various city projects.

For all the work she did, Mayor Phil O’Dwyer expressed his gratitude on behalf of residents and businesses.

“I will tell you what I have said many times,” he said, “We have about 100 employees between part time and full time, and I don’t want to embarrass you, but you are by far the brightest we have hired in my time in this city.”

After all of the speakers, Vansen took time to say some words herself, saying she wanted to share one observation she made after working all these years in the city.

“No one in local government, from the City Council to the boards and commission, to administration and staff, goes into local government for glory or for riches,” she said. “They do it because they want to make the world a better place, even if it’s just (a) 2 1/2-square-mile corner of the world.

“I am forever grateful to city leadership for giving me the opportunity to be a part of all of this. My work to make this world a better place continues in a better place, but to City Council, the boards and commissions, administration and staff, I give you this advice: Keep up the good work.”