Matthew Schmitz has begun his new job as Lansing's Community and Economic Development Director and his excitement is still at full pitch as he ponders the abundant development opportunities in the 'City with a Future.'
Lansing director enjoys being ‘part of the team’
By RIMSIE MCCONIGA
Matthew Schmitz has begun his new job as Lansing’s Community and Economic Development Director and his excitement is still at full pitch as he ponders the abundant development opportunities in the ‘City with a Future.’
He looks forward to being ‘part of the team’ and he is focused on expanding all forms of development in the city.
He was recently a management analyst for the Development Services Department in Shawnee, Kansas, where he worked with the Capital Improvement Program, as well as the Right-of-Way Management Program.
“In Shawnee, I had the pleasure of working on the Nieman Now! Group of projects in the downtown area,” says Matthew. “This group of six projects consisted of approximately $38 million of investment in the downtown area ranging from major stormwater projects to the yet-to-be-completed road diet (reduction from four to three lanes) and associated streetscape items and serve to address flooding issues along the Nieman Corridor in Shawnee from Shawnee Mission Parkway to 55th Street along Nieman Road, as well as improve the neighborhood feel of the area and the streetscape along Nieman itself. The idea is to make it a much more walkable area and more friendly to pedestrian traffic.”
Shawnee’s Right-of-Way program was developed and implemented before Matthew took the position on, but during his tenure he worked to expand the program by performing additional inspections of Right-of-Way permits, as well as additional oversight of the program. During his time in Shawnee, he worked to ensure that citizens’ concerns arising from utility companies performing work in the Right-of-Way were adequately addressed, and that the Right-of-Way itself was restored to its original condition so that homeowners didn’t have to restore it at their cost.
His experience with residential subdivision design and implementation will be very useful in his new role in Lansing. Matthew worked for some smaller engineering firms in the Kansas City metro area designing subdivisions, laying lots out and preparing drawings for subdivisions. He believes that experience will come in handy as he reviews submitted plans and plats for subdivisions proposed in Lansing.
“I think the thing I’m most impressed with is the progressive attitude towards development and the city in general,” says Matthew. “The emphasis that the Lansing City Council has placed on development is great, and will serve the city well in the coming years in my opinion.”
The Google Fiber rollout in Shawnee was a long process and Matthew says he can’t make any promises about Google Fiber being in the future of Lansing/Leavenworth, but it’s something he would certainly consider working to bring to the area if the opportunity arises. “Having Google Fiber or any other internet provider that can provide very high speed access would certainly help the area in terms of Economic Development, not to mention general development,” says Matthew. “Google Fiber is certainly something I’ve thought about, although I haven’t started doing much with that just yet. The most significant project that I’ve put some thought into is the Town Center area. I’d like to move forward with that area as soon as possible, and there are some things in the works that are looking very promising at this point.”
Matthew is closely following another issue that has been discussed at the Lansing City Council meetings recently which involves rezoning a 20-acre tract of land on East Mary Street from rezoning to agriculture. Lansing resident Breck Ricketts would like to grow lavender and introduce bee colonies.
“With any situation such as this, there are always many issues to consider,” says Matthew. “As the CED Director, I’m concerned about potential future use of the property, as well as impact on the surrounding neighbors. Personally, if he is requesting to utilize approximately 10 percent of that tract of land for this purpose, I see that as very similar to someone having a garden in their backyard in a residential area. There is of course the difference between a garden and this situation that this individual would be selling this crop for profit, while an individual generally would not. Ultimately, my role is to provide information to both the city administrator and the Lansing City Council. It’s the Council’s decision as to what will be allowed in this situation.”
In addition to his work experience in the KC area, Matthew has an impressive and ongoing educational segment on his résumé as well.
“I started out at a Technical College in Atchison, Kansas, Northeast Area Technical College,” says Matthew. “I received a degree in Computer Aided Drafting from that college in 2000. In 2007 I returned to school at Johnson County Community College and earned two degrees, one in Construction Management, and one in Civil Engineering Technology, graduating in 2011. In the spring of 2012, I returned to school again, this time at Kansas State University, and received my Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Kansas State University in May of 2017. I am currently enrolled at the University of Kansas Edwards Campus, and am working on my Master of Public Administration.
Having now officially been a student at K-State and KU, Matthew says it’s not hard to know which school to back in sports. “I will always be a K-State fan first, and a KU attendee second, (unless it’s basketball season — then reverse the order).”
He and his wife Jamee have been married since 2005 and they have three children.
As he continues to settle into his new position he is still impressed by the friendliness of the people of Lansing. He says he has always been struck by what an amazing community it is. He’s excited to be involved with the community and he can’t wait to bring new and exciting things to the city. He is also looking forward to partnering with City Administrator Tim Vandall on development issues and concerns and working together to advance the city and see what the future holds for the growing community.
“I think the most satisfying part of my job at the moment is getting to meet with different individuals who are involved in the development of Lansing, and discuss with them the options and items that the future may bring for the city,” says Matthew. “As time goes on, seeing some development that I helped (in some small way) to bring to the city will be very rewarding and satisfying.”