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Wednesday, October 16, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Spin Control

Ousted Spokane planning director takes the “high road” and leaves City Hall quietly

Scott Chesney, Spokane’s planning director who was abruptly ousted from his position last week, said today he was taking the “high road” and ending his role at the city.

Chesney did not give details on why he was forced to resign, but his silence is in line with that of Mayor David Condon and Jan Quintrall, head of the city’s Business and Development Services and Chesney’s supervisor, who both said they could not comment on the matter due to personnel confidentiality.

“It’s not my first choice, but I understand that there are irreconcilable differences in approach within an organization,” Chesney said about his resignation in an email. “There’s a degree of sadness in this change, but also one of pride. I’m proud to call Spokane home, and pleased with what we accomplished on my watch.”

Hours after Chesney’s dismissal became public, influential developers began speaking out and calling for Chesney’s reinstatement.

Jim Frank, president of Greenstone Corp., which is developing Kendall Yards; Walt Worthy, developer of the Grand Hotel Spokane and Davenport Hotel owner; Ron Wells, who is attempting to redevelop the Ridpath Hotel; and Dave Black, who brought Target to the South Hill, all quickly rallied around Chesney. City Council members were quick to echo the sentiment, but Mike Fagan was the only member to refuse to sign a letter of recommendation for Chesney.

At a news conference Monday, Condon said Chesney wouldn’t return to City Hall and downplayed the concerns of a “handful of developers.” He also criticized the media for the “magnitude of interest” in Chesney’s ouster.

Read Chesney's complete statement below. 

After taking a few days to cool down and reflect, I’ve decided to take the high road.

This week I expect to formally end my role as planning and development director for the City of Spokane. It’s not my first choice, but I understand that there are irreconcilable differences in approach within an organization. I do feel like we’re leaving a legacy of accomplishment, and I’m grateful for that.

There’s a degree of sadness in this change, but also one of pride. I’m proud to call Spokane home, and pleased with what we accomplished on my watch:

-       Hotel project to repurpose the facility to take advantage of a revitalizing Main Avenue and for better restaurant views to the park.

-       University District redevelopment reaching a stage for real/ feasible project development

-       Re-engaging with neighborhoods after years of bad feelings with city planning

A great deal of credit goes to my planning staff and their hard work.

At the same time, I had some existing projects in the works and some real visions for the future of Spokane. Those are tough to part with.

Personally, I look forward to continuing to be a part of the incredible Spokane community. Professionally, I want to explore several intriguing possibilities that I'm considering in the private sector.  I am grateful for, and humbled by the support of the community and council.

My passion and focus remains on revitalizing neighborhoods by identifying priority projects, matching them with an infusion of development capital, transforming communities and lives in the process. It’s what I’ve done my entire career, and will continue to do.




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Nicholas Deshais
Joined The Spokesman-Review in 2013. He is the urban issues reporter, covering transportation, housing, development and other issues affecting the city. He also writes the Getting There transportation column and The Dirt, a roundup of construction projects, new businesses and expansions. He previously covered Spokane City Hall.

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