Mitchell Silver did superb job as Raleigh's planning director

March 25, 2014 

Mitchell Silver, the dapper, thoughtful director of planning for the city of Raleigh, really has taken the city’s planning process to a new level since taking the job in 2005. It was no wonder, then, when he was chosen to serve as president of the American Planning Association from 2011 to 2013.

Unfortunately, for Raleigh at least, the position raised Silver’s profile and made him a prime candidate for recruitment by another city. And that’s exactly what happened in a big way. A Big Apple way. Silver has been named parks commissioner for New York City after being a finalist to be the city’s planning director.

He’s no stranger to the area, being a native of New York and having worked in its planning and policy office. The parks job is a little bit of a departure in terms of Silver’s expertise, but clearly New York Mayor Bill de Blasio picked Silver as someone he wanted aboard and got him.

Silver goes to the job as a believer in de Blasio’s vision of a city with more parks in poorer areas that measure up to those in the city’s affluent neighborhoods. Said Silver of the new task, “I have to say, after meeting with the mayor, hearing his vision for New York and his desire to have a park system that was equitable, innovative, healthy and safe, he had me at ‘hello.’ 

Thanks to Silver, Raleigh has better comprehensive planning, a vision of where it wants to be and stacks of planning documents to help it get there. In Raleigh City Council meetings, some officials get good grillings from council members. Silver typically made his presentations, calmly answered questions and rarely heard complaints. He was thorough, and the council respected him for his careful preparation.

He also made contributions around town by participating in other civic endeavors and giving speeches to many community groups, all of which left impressed. It’s good for Silver that New York also was impressed, but it’s a loss for the Capital City.

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