It's back to the Golden State for Paul Benoit. After serving as Astoria's City Manager for the last nine years Benoit has announced he will leave public service in Oregon as he is being considered a finalist for two jobs in California.
Benoit's history with the city of Astoria goes beyond his years in the City Manager's office. He had previously served as the city community development director in the 80's and was instrumental in several major improvements to Astoria including the beloved river walk trail. Benoit left his community development position here to take a job in community development and, eventually, assistant city manager for the city of Alameda, California working under his old boss, former Astoria City Manager Jim Flint. After serving under Flint for several years an opportunity arose to come back to Astoria as City Manager in which he has served with distinction building a very effective city staff and has several major projects under his belt.
Those projects most recently include the complete rebuild of the 17th street dock, the expansion of the city riverwalk trail, the environmental projects the city has undertaken like the multi-million dollar combined sewer overflow projects and covering the city reservoirs. Benoit has played a role in city plans for the old Safeway block where the Garden of Surging Waves is taking shape.
If one had to pick just one major improvement to Astoria that should be credited to Benoit it is the clean up of the old plywood mill property on Astoria's east end that became Mill Pond Village. The project was designated a brownfield project. The ground was so polluted by years of industrial activity that the soil had to be removed and "cooked out" on site to remove the contaminants before that soil could be disposed of elsewhere. The pond, which provides clean fish habitat today, was an oily mess when the project began. Now Mill Pond Village is the site of several homes, condos and apartments including high end homes and senior housing. Benoit told KAST news he considers the hiring decisions he has made as his top acheivement as City Manager.
Benoit says Astoria's winning combination of great political leadership and professional department heads led to the long series of successful projects that have enhanced the city's liveability over the last 20 years. When asked about his departure Benoit said that's a point of negotiation but he sees leaving Astoria at the end of next month and starting his new job March 1.