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Polson City planner moves to Oregon

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POLSON — During the five years Kyle Roberts has spent as Polson’s city planner, he’s witnessed a lot of change and positive growth. When he heads to his new job as a senior planner in Redmond, Oregon – a community on the east side of the Cascade Range that’s at least six times larger than Polson – he’s taking a step up, career-wise. But, it also means leaving a place he and his wife, Megan, have grown to love. 

“It’s a wonderful community and a great small town,” he said of Polson. “Megan and I tell ourselves we may never live anywhere as beautiful as it is here.”

Roberts suspects he’ll miss working for a smaller community. He has had a breadth of experience in Polson, which was especially true during the past two years when Polson was searching for a permanent replacement for its city manager. 

Mayor Paul Briney said: “Wade Nash was willing to wear two hats as chief of police and interim city manager, and Kyle was there to lend a hand wherever one was needed, (and) he stepped up and took on responsibilities that were outside his normal job description.”

Roberts helped facilitate the search for a new city manager while also running the planning department and monitoring several major projects. 

“I will miss Kyle’s steady hand, his preparedness on issues brought before the city commission, and his calm intelligence when dealing with the day-to-day operations of the city,” Briney added. “He will leave some very large shoes behind to fill.”  

During his time in the position, Roberts said he’s learned much about the workings of city government. “I’ve had the opportunity to wear many hats,” he said. 

His accomplishments include finishing updates to the Polson Development Code and Polson Growth Policy and helping the Polson Redevelopment Agency develop the Tax Increment Financing grant program. He’s also worked on initiatives to make information more accessible to citizens by creating a new city website and codifying city ordinances.

On a more personal level, he’s appreciated close interactions with people in the community and on the city’s advisory boards. He also found time to complete his master’s in public administration from the University of Montana. His wife is finishing off her bachelor’s degree in nursing at Salish Kootenai College. 

A self-described “nerd for local government,” Roberts earned his undergraduate degree from the University of Oregon, developed a five-year water conservation plan for Bonita, Oregon, as an AmeriCorps worker, and he spent three years with the Peace Corps working on local government issues in eastern Europe. 

“I have a passion for city planning,” he said. “I’m just interested in how places develop and why they develop.”

He’ll have ample opportunity to learn more about that field in the burgeoning community of Redmond, where he’ll work with three other planners. “From a planner’s standpoint, I’m going to gain a lot of experience there, but in the back of my mind, I want to try to broaden my scope. I want to do a little bit more than just planning,” he said.  

Eventually, he hopes to deploy his many skills in city management. He leaves Polson on a high note with a new, capable city manager in place and a downtown that’s adding businesses instead of subtracting them. 

“I’ve seen an encouraging wave of new vitality sweep through our downtown recently,” he said. “I truly believe this town has a lot of potential.”

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