As a planner in Baltimore who tangled with waterfront development, transportation and population shifts, Sheldon Lynn comes to Alexandria with experience in problems he can expect to face as the city's new planning director.
Lynn, 48, Baltimore's deputy director of planning, will take up his new duties in Alexandria in May at an annual salary of $58,000.
Acting City Manager Vola Lawson cited Lynn's long experience in planning and his Baltimore work as the chief reasons he was selected.
Alexandria had been without a planning director since September, when Engin Artemel left to form a consulting firm. Lynn competed with 65 applicants. The top nine candidates were interviewed by Lawson, Deputy City Manager Clifford Rusch and Dayton Cook, director of the Department of Transportation and Environmental Services.
In a recent interview, Lynn said he is "enthusiastic, excited and eager to learn about a new city." He said that he hopes to "earn the respect of the decision-makers here" in Alexandria and "be useful to them in their decision-making."
For the past 10 years, Lynn has been the deputy director of planning in Baltimore. Most recently, he directed a comprehensive study of Baltimore Harbor that will be released this summer. Traffic and parking analysis, economic development planning, neighborhood revitalization and parking problems are among the issues he has worked on in Baltimore.
Rusch said that the selection panel weighed heavily each candidate's skills in the management of planning activities. Lynn was "very impressive" in that area, said Rusch, calling Lynn a "knowledgeable, savvy, very well-organized person."
Lynn, who was introduced to the City Council last Saturday, will remain at his $46,700-a-year Baltimore job until May. Because he is only a few months away from being eligible to draw his Baltimore pension, he will work for Alexandria under contract from May to September while on leave from his Baltimore post. Lynn will be paid at an hourly rate equivalent to his eventual $58,000 salary, but he will receive no benefits here. In September, he will be put on salary and given benefits.
Alexandria is an "interesting, attractive city" where people show an interest in, and concern for, planning, Lynn said. He said that he had been impressed by the people he met while interviewing in Alexandria.
Before taking up his Baltimore post, Lynn was assistant director of the Bureau of Planning in Portland, Ore., and assistant director of planning in New Haven, Conn. He also worked for the Boston Redevelopment Authority and helped write that city's comprehensive plan.
Lynn received a bachelor's degree in political science from Reed College in 1958 and a master's degree in city planning from Harvard University. He has done graduate work at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
"There is a fair amount of bad planning in the United States," Lynn said, noting that planners for a "long time believed that planning's main function was comprehensive plans" for cities. Such plans may not be relevant to developed areas such as Old Town Alexandria, an older, built-up area. In such cases, Lynn said, specific area plans work better.