Milwaukie Parks and Sustainability Director JoAnn Herrigel recently submitted her resignation letter to friends and colleagues after working for the city for 19 years.

by: FILE PHOTO - JoAnn Herrigel Launching construction of Riverfront Park and obtaining $2.4 million in state grants for Phase 2 construction in June 2014 could go down in history as Herrigel’s and Milwaukie’s biggest accomplishments of the 2010s. She has been heading the Riverfront Park project since 2000.

“Together, we have designed and built neighborhood parks, enhanced recycling programs, educated the public about a variety of public projects and celebrated this community with public events and performances,” she wrote on Sept. 23. “Most importantly, we have worked together to design and permit Milwaukie Riverfront Park and have successfully funded Klein Point Overlook, new boating facilities and a riverside pathway.”

In overseeing Milwaukie’s solid-waste programs, utility franchise negotiations, recycling initiatives, communications and code compliance, few people have worked for the city longer than Herrigel. Only 15 employees have longer tenures in Milwaukie, including eight sworn police officers. Library Supervisor Nancy Wittig is Milwaukie’s longest-serving employee at 37 years.

After it stopped trying to attract a minor-league baseball team, Milwaukie reorganized its Community Services Department last year to allow Herrigel to focus on the completion of Riverfront Park. Program Coordinator Beth Ragel’s responsibility for the neighborhood associations and building volunteer opportunities for citizens moved to the city manager’s office, while other Community Services programs that Herrigel oversaw, such as parking and code-enforcement staff, moved to the Police Department.

As the staff liaison to the Riverfront Board and the Parks and Recreation Board, Herrigel, 53, coordinated design, permitting, land acquisition and construction of city parks. She’s also chaired the city’s Sustainability Team for several years. She will “spend some time thinking” about her next adventure after she leaves her position Oct. 25.

“In short, it is time to move on, and I believe the Riverfront Park project is in a very good place for someone else to take over and push that project to completion,” she said.

After graduating from North Hunterdon Regional High School in Annandale, N.J., Herrigel went on to earn her bachelor’s degree in botany from the University of New Hampshire in 1982. Then she began working on the East Coast for solid-waste programs and got a master’s degree in city planning from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1989. After developing “Metro Plan 2000” for the Boston area, she took a job coordinating the city of Gresham’s recycling program and also worked for the Association of Oregon Recyclers for a year before coming to Milwaukie.

In addition to Riverfront Park, the biggest changes she’s seen in Milwaukie include the construction of the North Main Street development at Main and Harrison; the design and construction of light rail; and the completion of the Trolley Trail and the Springwater Corridor’s Three Bridges Project. Her fondest memories include the annual riverfront bonfire/fireworks and the opening of Klein Point Overlook in December 2012.

“I have enjoyed working for the city and will miss all those I have worked with over the years,” she said. “The city has amazing and committed staff and a very, very active population.”

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