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Borough has new projects leader

Posted: Sunday, May 09, 2010

It's no clich. Daniel Park's latest move to the Kenai Peninsula was literally a dream come true.

Park, the Kenai Peninsula Borough's new capital projects director, has moved to Alaska twice. And with each move, the timing could not have been better.

In 1982, Park was living with his wife in Great Falls, Mont., working for an architecture firm, CTA Architects and Engineers. CTA opened an Alaska office and Park moved up to help oversee construction at the new hospital in Soldotna.

When Park, now 54, got the call about the project in Alaska, he really had no choice but to move.

It would have been a problem if word of the project came any sooner because Park's eldest son, Ben, was just two weeks old at the time. Park might have had to miss the birth. Instead, it worked out, and the young family made the move.

When the hospital was finished, Park went to Anchorage to work in CTA's corporate office.

He stayed with the company for a couple of years, during which he helped to manage the Homer High School construction project, and then Park left CTA for another company. Eventually, Park wound up in Arizona, working on a dam foundation.

But he was tired of jumping around from site to site, so Park decided to start his own architecture firm near Medford, Ore. He stayed in business more than 20 years, working on student housing, office buildings, church renovation, residential custom homes, and a number of other projects. He learned what it means to work for himself.

"I learned how to run a business competitively and how to stay current. You really need to keep up, otherwise you just get buried by the competition," Park said. "I learned from inception through construction how to manage projects and get them built."

The problem was the economy eventually took its toll on Park's firm. He started running out of work to do, so he began looking around for other gigs. That's when he discovered the ad for the borough capital projects director and applied.

"I could see that, timing-wise, it was going to be good," Park said.

He went through a series of telephone interviews, but Kenai Peninsula Borough Mayor Dave Carey wanted to meet any individual face-to-face before hiring anyone. Park had plans to come to Alaska, so he scheduled a time to meet Carey.

"He had a lifetime of experience in the private sector. He was a competent person and his philosophy was consistent with mine," Carey said. That philosophy is to "manage capital projects as efficiently and as inexpensively as possible."

Before Park even had an interview for the job with the borough, Park's wife told him that she had a dream that he was going to come to Alaska and accept the job on the Kenai Peninsula. She even told the dream to a friend so that Park could verify his wife's story later.

"You know how dreams can get out of hand," Park said. "Before we really even knew what was happening at the time, she just told me that's where she thought I'd be."

The dream was 100-percent correct.

Park said it's been a bit of an adjustment moving from the private to the public sector.

"I've always been a make-things-happen, get-it-done kind of guy. I'm finding a few other people have to weigh in on decisions here," said Park, who now has a small picture album of Ben's daughter, Claire, sitting on his desk.

Park, who has a bachelor's and a master's degree in architecture from Montana State University, said his goal is to practice fiscal conservatism as the capital projects director for the borough.

"I've always been an advocate of being conservative and frugal with my own money. I see the borough money just like I see my own," Park said. "I hate seeing waste."

And why?

"Because I'm a taxpayer."

Andrew Waite can be reached at andrew.waite@peninsulaclarion.com



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