FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
The City’s Director of Building Development Services (BDS) Chris Straw announces he will retire in January 2018. Many residents have become familiar with Chris and his department because many of the department’s services affect the quality of life in neighborhoods and workplaces.
The BDS team ensures the community’s buildings are safe by issuing permits for all phases of building construction and by giving tests and awarding skill-based certificates to electricians, plumbers, gas fitters and mechanical craftsmen for a license to operate in Springfield. BDS inspectors also respond to approximately 12,000 citizen service requests per year, addressing a wide variety of nuisance complaints.
Chris has served as director since 2010 after joining the City in 1999 as a plan review specialist and later a project facilitator and code administrator. A licensed architect, Chris previously worked in the private sector working in building design and development for 22 years.
“I’ve had the opportunity to work with Chris as a project manager while working on the Expo Center. He was top-notch then and he’s top-notch now,” said Rick Quint, a general contractor and owner of Q & Company.
Quint worked with Chris on two high-profile projects: Springfield Expo Center and the Springfield-Branson National Airport terminal. “He just has a roll-up-your-sleeves, get-to-work attitude and he’s a problem solver,” Quint said. “He’s the kind of guy that just drops everything to help someone who needs his help. He will be missed.”
Chris has been instrumental in the City’s Zone Blitz initiative, working to address the number one priority shared by neighbors in the 2015 Community Listen tour: chronic nuisance properties. Since the listening tour, Chris has taken several steps (with City Council approval) to further address dangerous buildings and enforce the unkempt property code.
Those steps included:
• Hiring of two additional BDS inspectors in July 2016
• Adopting the standards of the International Property Maintenance Code in March 2017
• Streamlining the administrative hearing process for those contesting compliance enforcement attempts in March 2017
• Revising portions of the City’s Chapter 74 Nuisance and Housing Code
To address unhealthy and unsafe rental properties, Chris and a multi-disciplinary team consisting of City public safety departments and private sector organizations and nonprofits have teamed up to create a Safe Housing Inspection program. He is scheduled to provide an update on that program to City Council in the coming weeks.
“Chris is tireless in his dedication to private citizens and developers,” said Greg Burris, City Manager. “He provides outstanding customer service and dramatically improved the City’s reputation for being a friendly and easy organization to work with. He and his department have led multiple initiatives that improve the quality of life in Springfield. Our entire city is better because of Chris’ work.”
# # #
For more information, contact Director of Public Information & Civic Engagement Cora Scott at 417-380-3352 or [email protected].