Newark's first planner, Kimberly Burton, is expected to start April 1.

Newark's first planner, Kimberly Burton, is expected to start April 1.

"I think they have a lot of energy and really want to make the community better," Burton said of Newark officials.

Burton currently owns her own company, Westerville-based Burton Planning Services LLC. She has signed a contract to work with the city for one year for $54,000 to establish the planning department and help achieve the following seven goals:

Work on a Clean Ohio brownfields project. Work on one Ohio Job Ready Sites project. Work on one retention-and-expansion project that creates jobs and an investment in the community. Support or collaborate on one downtown development project. Update the city's Destiny 20/20 comprehensive plan. Coordinate issues of the city's planning commission, city council and board of zoning appeals. Help Newark's efforts to secure federal funding from the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
Fowler worked with Newark City Council on outlining the planner's goals.

Burton will work with Stephen Fowler, the city's economic-development director, along with the city's public-service director and city engineer, to "enhance Newark's economic development and infrastructure-planning efforts."

She is a planner and engineer who has a focus on environmental and green initiatives.

Newark Mayor Bob Diebold said that's one of the reasons Burton was hired. The city is interested in completing more environment-friendly initiatives, mentioning a recent discussion with a company that promotes wind energy.

Burton said she contacted city staff March 26 to begin setting up meetings with local officials to determine the city's needs.

She said she is not sure yet how much time she will spend in Newark City Hall but said she has a lot of work to do.

"I need to make sure I am pursuing things that are meaningful to the community," she said.

Diebold said the position is needed in Newark.

"This is the first planner in the city's history," he said. "April 1 will be a big day."

Former Mayor Bruce Bain had suggested adding the position of planner to the city. Under Mayor Bob Diebold, the city reorganized the service department, saving money that has been earmarked for the planner's contract.