Changes, expansions in focus and with staff have already occurred, more on the way
It has been close to two full years since the now 65-year-old, former Malden Redevelopment Authority (MRA) was integrated and incorporated into a new, fully city-run department. Now, since the time the then newly named Office of Strategic Planning and Community Development (OSPCD) was officially formed in 2021, the calendar has turned quickly and even more changes lie ahead for the department, according to its Director, Deborah Burke. Burke had served as executive director of the MRA since 2014 through its integration in 2021 and now serves as director of the OSPCD as well.
On Tuesday night, Burke gave an update on the OSPCD and described some planned changes and expansions in both focus and goals of the department, as well as some redefining and addition of roles within its staff. Burke told the City Council that a strong emphasis is being made on staff recruitment and also retention, noting that it is often a difficult task in recent years to both attract and keep qualified and productive candidates for open positions in her department and in the public sector, in general.
According to information presented Tuesday night and on the webpage at cityofmalden.org, “The Office of Strategic Planning and Community Development (OSPCD) manages projects, programs, and planning activities on land use, transportation planning, community development, economic development and business support, climate resiliency, affordable housing, and grant management. OSPCD administers Malden’s community development and housing rehabilitation programs, the North Suburban Consortium’s HOME program, and various other grant programs.”
OSPCD has been heavily “involved in several COVID-19 recovery efforts,” most notably in rental assistance programs and eviction prevention and matching Malden residents with appropriate programs.
Burke told the City Council that the OSPCD has had a great deal of success in expanding and evolving real-time relevant programming with issues such as climate resiliency.
Burke said immediate goals include evaluating and “tweaking” certain aspects, including:
— Setting up the OSPCD for future success
— Addressing new areas of focus and strengthening existing efforts and initiatives
— Recognizing the demand on staffing resources required to succeed in multiple focus areas
Burke pointed to a great deal of success in the OSPCD obtaining a number of major grants to help fund projects and initiatives since a full-time grant writer position was added to the staff. The OSPCD director also explained there has been a “tremendous increase in focus on housing and housing support; transportation; climate and resiliency; and community projects.”
To address these new and expanded areas of focus by the department, Burke explained, some staffing changes are planned, including the appointment of two deputy directors – promotions within the department. These would be Kevin Duffy as Deputy Director for Business and Economic Development and Alex Pratt as Deputy Director for Housing and Community. Both of these persons are already employed in the department in other, related roles.
“We will continue to address the needs of the residents, businesses and municipal staff of this community in any way we can,” Burke told the City Council.