Saturday, January 13, 2007

Detailed Bio

Wes Blackman was born in Lansing, Michigan in 1961 - He graduated from Alma College with honors in 1983, majoring in Business Administration. He studied the Spanish language for eight years and studied in Madrid, Spain. He visited many cities in Spain experienced the architectural wonders of Toledo, Granada and Barcelona. His travels also took him to Avignon and Paris, France, with a final stop in Amsterdam. The Spanish/Moorish architecture of southern Spain made quite an impression, especially the Alhambra in Granada. These influences became important factors in Wes’ future.

Wes also was an accomplished player of the baritone horn, playing in many honor bands throughout his high school and college career. He continued his interest by participating in community bands in every area in which he lived.

He began his career working for the State of Michigan, Department of Commerce in Community Development. Working as a staff analyst for economic development grants and loan programs to Michigan cities experiencing economic impacts from the downtown of the automobile industry, Wes assisted communities in the establishment of revolving loan fund programs and infrastructure improvements. Many of the infrastructure improvements related to the extension of public water lines. These projects provided safe drinking water for families that drank water from nitrate tainted wells from fertilizer use.

Wes continued his work in the private sector by being a Community Development Specialist at Wilkins and Wheaton Engineering in Kalamazoo, Michigan. In this role, he assisted communities in assembling grant applications and packaging economic development loan programs to create needed jobs. Comstock Township, outside of Kalamazoo, Michigan, benefited from Wes’ expertise in securing grant monies for the expansion of their public water supply system. While in southwestern Michigan, Wes helped the City of Allegan complete an historic structure survey and establish the City’s first historic districts. He also helped area communities complete recreation plans for better access to State of Michigan recreation grant programs.
Wes then returned to his hometown to work at the City of East Lansing as Economic Development Specialist. His work there expanded to include working as staff person for the City’s Economic Development Corporation, Downtown Development Authority and the Central East Lansing Business Association. He was also active in the Regional Economic Development team – a consortium of local communities that worked to promote targeted economic development projects. This is where Wes first entered the world of site plan and zoning review, specializing in projects in the downtown East Lansing. He was part of the team that brought a major mixed-use project, including a public parking component, to the downtown. His specialty was parking system utilization and rate structure analyses.

Wes’ move to Florida came in 1989, primarily in search of a warmer climate and a new set of professional opportunities. He relocated to the West Palm Beach area and worked for the City of West Palm Beach as an Urban Planner. This was at the time that state-mandated Comprehensive Plans were being prepared by all local governments in Florida in response to Florida Administrative Code 9J5 and Chapter 163, Florida Statutes. Wes was put in charge of the transportation and infrastructure elements of the City’s Comprehensive Plan, along with other responsibilities including site plan and zoning/land use reviews. He became known as the City’s traffic planner. In 1991, Wes completed his certification in the American Institute of Certified Planners.

Wes always enjoyed spending time in the City of Lake Worth since moving to Florida. He respected the layout of the City, the charm of its downtown area and the abundance of public land on the water. He moved here in 1992 and lived in a duplex near 7th Avenue South and H Street. Hardly the garden spot of the world back then, but it fit the bill for about 5 years. His interest in planning and neighborhood improvement were stimulated due to the property to the south which was a "bombed out" former lodge building (which is now converted to a church and came out rather well). In the parking lot adjacent to his house, there was an out building that housed an Ambulance dispatch office, complete with ambulances that would go out at all hours of the day or night, lights flashing - with a siren here or there for extra effect. Some previous "Organ of the City" approved this use for the property without any regard for the neighborhood around it - it was around this time that he started thinking about getting involved and using his planning experience to better the conditions of the City.

He loved the proximity to downtown - loved to go to Rosie's for their lobster specials, went to the beach often, enjoyed the various events at Bryant Park, etc. It was while he lived here that he served on the City's Leisure Services Board - got to know Babara Aubel and Lynnette Romano, the Webbers, among others.

A big change in Wes’ life occurred in 1993 when he spoke in favor of the Mar-a-Lago property becoming a private club. This lovely example of Mediterranean revival architecture in South Florida was patterned after portions of the Alhambra in Spain. He was concerned that the National Historic Landmark would be subdivided or follow the fate of other large residential estates in Palm Beach. Mar-a-Lago was the last of a breed – all the other large estates had either been bulldozed or were subdivided in response to changing socio-economic factors. The owner of the property, Mr. Trump had sued the Town of Palm Beach over the right to subdivide the property. The proposal to establish a private club and keep the property intact was offered as a way to allow a use that was kind to the historic nature of the property and allow the lawsuit to be withdrawn. Wes offered his opinion of the traffic and historic preservation impacts of the proposal at a public hearing in May of that year. In September, he was asked by Mr. Trump to come on board and help meet the conditions of approval to establish a private club.

Over the next ten years, Wes secured approvals for the sensitive changes necessary to accommodate the new use of the property. This meant many presentations before the Landmarks Preservation Commission and the Palm Beach Town Council. Wes also had significant interaction with the National Trust for Historic Preservation and took many trips to Washington, D.C. in pursuit of permissions for the addition of tennis courts, spa, beach cabanas and ballroom for the Mar-a-Lago Club. As the Club grew more successful, Mr. Trump established a championship 18 hole golf course on County property south of the Palm Beach International Airport. Wes directed the efforts of a team of professionals in completing the golf course and did the same when it was time to construct a luxurious 40,000 square foot clubhouse on the property. He also assisted in gaining approval of an adjacent 9 hole course northwest of the 214 acre golf course property. With the projects completed, Wes left the Trump Organization in 2003. His experience here led him to understand all aspects of project management, critical path analysis, negotiation of contracts and the supervision of a team of professionals. He also gained valuable experience in construction management and his efforts garnered an award from the Florida Society of the American Institute of Building Design to Donald Trump for the Mar-a-Lago Club restoration and the innovative special construction techniques applied to the Clubhouse at Trump International Golf Course.

After working briefly for a local consulting firm, Wes went out on his own and established his own planning and zoning consulting firm. He recently resigned from his positions as Chairman of the Planning and Zoning Historic Resource Preservation Board, the Nuisance Abatement Board and as member of the Stakeholders Advisory Committee in order to run for the District #3 Commission Seat for the March municipal election. He has recently attended classes at Harvard concerning retail development in traditional downtowns and mixed use development. He is still a member of the Palm Beach County Planning Congress, where he served 2 times as its president, and is Chairman of the Land Development Regulation Advisory Board of Palm Beach County. He is also a board member of the Palm Beach County Historical Society.

Wes has lived in College Park for the past 6 years with his two dogs, Venus and Mars. He enjoys antique automobiles and hosts karaoke at a local Lake Worth establishment.

"Political advertisement paid for and approved by Wes Blackman for Commissioner – District #3"

New Flier!