New Mount Airy planner sees town of many assets, growth challenges Demographic specialist began work Tuesday

August 09, 1996|By Donna R. Engle | Donna R. Engle,SUN STAFF

Mount Airy's new town planner offers this assessment of the community: The town has a lot going for it but faces a lot of pressure from residential growth.

Officially hired Monday by the Town Council, Monika Jenkins, 39, replaces Teresa Bamberger, Mount Airy's first town planner, who resigned July 1 to work in the private sector.

Jenkins, who began her new job Tuesday, had worked as a planner in Frederick County for 10 years. She was one of six finalists from a field of 43 applicants.

"Probably the major [deciding] characteristic was experience," said Mayor Gerald L. Johnson, who declined to divulge the planner's salary. "Her experiences fit in pretty close to what we're involved in and what we're dealing with."

Jenkins, who majored in urban affairs at the Virginia Institute of Technology, brings a different perspective to the job than her predecessor. Bamberger was an architect.

"My focus may be a little different, but I can understand how she was thinking by reading the comprehensive plan," Jenkins said.

The Mount Airy comprehensive plan, which Bamberger considered one of her proudest achievements in her 5 1/2 years on the job, was completed in 1993.

In Frederick County, Jenkins was involved in long-range planning, specializing in demographics. She worked with the county's small towns, reviewed site plans for Frederick city and served on a committee of the Washington Council of Governments.

"The [Frederick County] job had gotten real routine for me," she said. "The fun of town planning is that you get to do everything. I needed a change in a big-time way."

From Jenkins' perspective, Mount Airy's assets include a new school, new post office and "the most beautiful inventory of Victorian houses I've ever seen."

Its challenges include making sure public services keep pace with development. The town, she said, must lure new business and industry to create a jobs-to-housing ratio that supports municipal services and allows people to work in the area.

Jenkins' first job after college was helping to plan the rehabilitation of housing in a low-income area of a small Virginia town. She later worked as a planner in Lake Charles, La., before returning to Virginia to take care of her ill mother. She joined the Frederick County planning staff in 1986 after her mother recovered.

Jenkins is working on a master's degree at the University of Virginia and commutes to the Fairfax satellite campus from her Frederick home. Her husband, Eric, is a transportation planner for the city of Rockville. The couple have a son, Daniel, 3.

Pub Date: 8/09/96

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