WCI Staff Profile: Wayne Hurley, AICP

The latest issue of "Small Town and Rural Planning," a newsletter of the American Planning Association's (APA) Small Town and Rural Planning (STaR) Division, featured our own Planning Director Wayne Hurley. We thought you'd like to learn more about him, too! Reprinted with permission from STaR.

Name: Wayne T. Hurley, AICP

Position: Planning Director, West Central Initiative, Fergus Falls, Minnesota

Education: BA – Local & Urban Affairs (now Community Development), St. Cloud State University

APA Involvement: APA-Minnesota Chapter Board Member, AICP since 2003, member Transportation Planning and Small Town & Rural Planning divisions.
STaR Member since: 2007

How did you become interested in planning?
My parents have pictures of me as a little kid building cities with Legos. I thought I wanted to be an architect, but I was interested in planning issues, even if I didn’t know what planning was.

What is the most interesting rural project you’re working on these days?
The Minnesota Dept. of Transportation (MnDOT) is contracting with Regional Development Organizations (RDOs) across the state to work with rural communities to plan and implement Safe Routes to School. You’re helping communities that don’t have staff capacity, and you really see the results of your work.

Many of us who work in planning are also very active volunteers in our own community. How do you bridge the two?
As a regional agency, it makes it easier. I can be a resource and share that professional knowledge. I’m the chair of the Planning Commission, and liaison to the Heritage Preservation Commission (which I served on previously). I’ve also been a local bicycle advocate, which draws on my work with Safe Routes to School and concern for my own kids.
You’ve also been active in planning for the future of the historic Kirkbride property?
One of the things that attracted me to this community was the architecture and history, both downtown and at the old Regional Treatment Center—the Kirkbride. I was really struck by how unique these places were. Historic buildings are something no other community can offer. They give Fergus Falls a unique identity and sense of place.

What’s the best part of working in a small town or rural area?
I always ask myself, do I feel like I’m accomplishing something? In a small town, I feel like I can make a difference.