New assistant city planner ready

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, February 23, 2011

NATCHEZ — Tuesday marked the first official day for new Natchez assistant city planner Danit Simon, and she was already getting into the thick of things.

“I am really excited and happy to be here,” Simon said. “To be able to have this new experience and to work in such a fostering area is great.”

Simon, 32, recently received her master’s degree in urban planning at New York University.

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She also worked for three and a half years at Empire State Development Corporation, a company in charge of economic development in New York.

“I worked on everything from small fund projects to larger ones like the renovation of Penn Station,” she said. “I managed about 50 projects there, and the whole corporation worked on a $300 million budget.”

Simon said once she finished her master’s, she applied to many places, but the job in Natchez was the one that came to life.

“I just liked the idea of moving to the South and the complete new lifestyle that comes with it,” she said. “Bob (Nix) seems like a wonderful person, and I am just ready to get things going.”

City Planner Bob Nix said he had been looking for an assistant for his department since the start of the new fiscal year in October.

“That is when we knew we would have the funds available to make the hire,” he said. “Some revenues came in and we knew where we stood.”

Nix said Simon’s duties as assistant city planner will first be to get familiar with how everything runs.

“You have no choice in a small organization but to be a generalist,” he said. “You may specialize in one or two areas, but if something were to happen to me and I couldn’t work, she has to step in no matter what.”

Nix said he will be teaching Simon how to deal with people at the front counter and with the different codes to learn in Natchez.

“We will be doing these things together and then she will be moving to doing it on her own,” he said. “This is a good way for her to learn the code and the issues that come up.”

With that in mind, Nix said Simon’s main focus will be handling the preservation commission.

“I believe she will do wonderful at this,” he said. “We were competing with cities from all over the country for someone to fill the position, and I know we got the best.”

Nix said the salary for the position is $34,000 a year, and he believes Simon is worth every penny.

“I am very certain that she is going to do well,” he said. “She made the decision to work here, this is what she wanted to do, and I believe she will fit nicely in Natchez.”

Simon said she has been in Natchez for one week, and the differences from New York life have been noticeable.

“When I walk my dog at night, the streets are empty, and I’m still use to walking places instead of driving there,” she said. “I am glad I got to move downtown, I can still walk to work and go home for lunch. It has been nice.”