Erin Chambers has worked for the City of Newton for the past 10 years- first as the City Planner, then as the Director of Planning and Zoning. Erin also serves on the Executive Board for the Iowa Chapter of the American Planning Association. She earned a B.A. in Communication Studies and a M. A. in Urban and Regional Planning, both from the University of Iowa. Before coming to Newton, Erin worked as a planner for the Town of Groton, Connecticut. In her free time, Erin and her family, which includes husband, Matt, and their two children, enjoy spending time together gardening, hiking, camping, and traveling.

What do you think people should “get to know” about Newton?

Newton is a community where individuals can easily become involved and make a significant impact. Newton’s strong tradition of volunteerism is indicative of the pride that citizens have in the community.

What’s an upcoming project you are excited to work on?

The continued focus on the revitalization of the Downtown through both the Downtown Micro-Grants and the possible implementation of a Downtown Streetscape Project really gets me excited for the future. Historic Downtown Newton is the heart of the community and is a key piece of the economic development puzzle.

What’s an accomplishment you’re proud of?

I would say that the development of Newton’s Future: A Comprehensive Plan in 2011-2012 (adopted in 2012) is at the top of the list. The public input process into the plan came at a time when citizens were really engaged with shaping the future of the community. That input was used in the development the comprehensive plan which has been the foundation of a lot of great progress over the past four years- as shown in the “100 Signs of Progress” issue of this magazine last quarter.

How is your department helping Newton prepare for the future?

A significant amount of the work that the Planning and Zoning Department is tasked with has to do with preparing for the future. Collaborating with other City departments and community organizations on the implementation of the comprehensive plan, as well as leading the regular review and updating of that document, is probably the greatest future looking task that we do.

What is Newton’s best-kept secret?

Newton is a high-quality, full-service community- great local businesses, a strong K-12 educational system, a hospital, a community college, and top-notch parks- all within a short drive of a growing metro region. Just last year, Newton was named as one of the “Top 10 Affordable Small Towns Where You’d Actually Want to Live” by Realtor.com. So, I guess maybe the secret is getting out- and that’s good too.