DOVER — Longtime city official Christopher Parker is taking on a new role as the city’s deputy city manager, tasked with responsibilities to oversee development and strategic initiatives across multiple departments.
Parker, 47, was promoted from his longtime role as assistant city manager and director of planning. While some aspects of the job remain the same, he will hand over responsibilities within the planning department to gain new, more broad management roles and responsibilities. This new title also means Parker would serve as acting city manager in Michael Joyal’s absence if the need arose.
“As deputy city manager, Chris will lead various strategic initiatives related to our community master plan and public/private development opportunities,” Joyal said. “In doing so, he will manage all development related functions across various city offices and departments. These include land use and zoning regulation administered by our planning department along with community and economic development.”
Joyal noted he intends to restructure various areas, like planning, community development and economic development. He plans to name a new planning director in the coming weeks.
Twenty-five years and counting
Parker began his career right after graduating college, when he joined the city planning department in 1997 as an intern, before landing a job within the community services department in 1998. In 2002, Parker went back to work within the planning department and was named director in 2007. In 2014, he was promoted to assistant city manager, but maintained his role at the helm of the planning department.
In Parker’s 25 years working for the city, he said one of the things that has brought him the most joy is reimagining Dover’s history to make it part of the city’s future. He was once a student at the middle school in the McConnell Center, and he was later part of the team that renovated the building into what it is today.
“Having grown up here, worked here, and seen how local government can have a positive influence in people’s lives, it’s been a amazing,” Parker said. “We are the creative problem solvers in the community, whether that is a problem as small as a lot line adjustment, to problems as big as re-envisioning a 103,000-square-foot building or building a new high school.”
Parker said his new position is the natural next step. As the city continues to grow, he said, it's important to have more hands on deck to keep Dover's progress on track.
“While you'll no longer see me at the Planning Board meetings, instead I'll be providing guidance to the new planning director and the economic development staff, in addition to working with the city manager on projects in the pipeline and pushing strategic initiatives to move the city forward,” Parker said.
New role, new responsibilities
One timely example of Parker’s new role, was discussed at Wednesday’s City Council meeting, where the Council looked at awarding design funds for the downtown pedestrian vehicular access plan to make the area safer and more accessible. Parker said that part of his role is to work with that design firm and be the point person to coordinate the effort between the different city departments working on it.
“I look forward to it because it's a great chance to be able to stay with the same organization I've been with since 1997, and continue to evolve my role to be a resource for planning, economic development, community services, and any other area where my experience and expertise can be helpful,” Parker said.
According to his past contract, when Parker was hired as the planning director in 2007 his annual salary was $70,643 before any merit-based increases. Under this new contract, his annual salary will be $134,992. Unlike other neighboring cities, Dover does not have contracts renewed every few years, instead they remain effective as long as the employee works for the city unless they are promoted.
The city does not plan to fill Parker’s former position, which was essentially two roles in one, and will instead focus on naming a planning director and reconfiguring the Office of Economic Development to “better support the efforts of our Dover Business and Industrial Development Authority in meeting the needs of our business community,” Joyal said.
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The City Council approved a resolution updating Chris’ employment agreement as deputy city manager at its last meeting.
“We all are looking forward to having Chris take on this new and expanded role guiding the varied facets of growth and development throughout our community,” Joyal said.
When asked if Parker would one day take the reins as city manager if Joyal retires, he said he may consider the opportunity if it arose and felt right, but "he'd be happy to work alongside Mike" until his own retirement, whenever that may be.
“I love working with Mike because we have a great working relationship and know each other's quirks and limits,” Parker said. “It would not make me sad to one day retire from here, with him still being the boss.”
This article originally appeared on Fosters Daily Democrat: Dover NH native Christopher Parker named city's deputy city manager