Monday, September 28, 2015

David Troast

David Troast, City Manager of Hackensack, New Jersey, spoke with students last week as part of SCASLA's Fall into Landscape Architecture series. David is a graduate of Colorado State University's Landscape Architecture program and was eager to share the details of his work experience with current students.

New to the job market, married, and struggling to establish a career, David found himself in between jobs after serving as a small town manager and studying planning under Johnathan Barnett, current University of Pennsylvania professor, in New York City. While laid off, David opted to further his education by completing a masters degree in Public Administration from Rutgers University in New Jersey. From there, he was hired as the City Manager of Hackensack.

As City Manager, Mr. Troast is responsible for preparing the annual budget, engaging with city council members, recommending municipal improvement proposals and locations, and implementing public policy. His ultimate goal is to assure proper financing and push projects through levels of city government. This involves contacting, organizing, and overseeing everyone involved with a given project-- city planners, architects, landscape architects, engineers, and attorneys.

David made a point to emphasize the role of landscape architects in city planning. Planners must consider which attributes are woven into successful downtown districts, like high population density, mixed-use retail, entertainment, culture, plazas, parks, public transit, adequate parking, etc. The aforementioned threads are what define the character of a lively downtown. Within his slides, David mentioned a quote from Jane Jacobs' book, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, stating that "you can't rely on bringing people downtown, you have to put them there". Simply stated, people must be able to live and thrive downtown, not commute for special occasions.

Currently, David and his colleagues are working to revitalize Main St. in Hackensack. Their goal is to create a vibrant downtown through construction of high-rise residential buildings, vertically-stacked parking, and urban green space in place of inactive hardscapes.

David left students with a quote of his own, saying "the best planners are, first, landscape architects".