At the end of November, the Victor City Council unanimously approved the hiring of Ryan Krueger as planning director to replace Josh Wilson, who left the city in August.
Mayor Jeff Potter said last month that the candidates for the position all had strong resumes, perhaps because the city cast a wider net and sought young talent.
Krueger has a master’s degree in city and regional planning from Clemson University and just passed the American Institute of Certified Planners exam. He spent the last two and a half years in the planning department of Troutdale, Oregon. However, he’s no stranger to the Tetons; after he graduated from the University of Georgia in 2007, he moved to Jackson.
At first Krueger worked the usual resort town jobs, but he then became engaged in the nonprofit world. An enthusiastic environmentalist, he served as the board chair of the now-defunct Keep Yellowstone Nuclear Free group (creators of the infamous “Plutonium Free Powder” sticker) and spearheaded the Teton Revival Initiative Bridging Experiences project, which took mud-season ski bums and climbers to places like New Orleans where they could assist ongoing recovery efforts from Hurricane Katrina and the BP oil spill.
After a number of years in Jackson, Krueger moved to Bozeman and worked as a customer service director for the popular backpack manufacturer Mystery Ranch. He considered going to Montana State for engineering but without an engineering undergrad degree, the prerequisites were daunting.
That’s what took him to Clemson, where he did his graduate research on affordable housing in western resort towns, making him perfectly suited to work in a community that is grappling with just that.
Krueger will soon move to Victor with his fiancée and will start work on Jan. 2. He anticipates building relationships with elected officials and agencies across the region.
In addition to having personal experiences and prior friendships to draw from, Krueger has been doing his research on the specific issues facing Teton Valley and Victor. He hasn’t yet spoken to former Driggs planner Ashley Koehler, who is still doing contract work for Victor, but he anticipates that they’ll have a lot to talk about.
“It seems like she has had a very direct role in development in the valley during her six years here,” he added.
In Oregon one focus of Krueger’s long range planning was the mitigation of hazards including impacts caused by climate change; while that concern was more acute in Troutdale, he said it’s something to consider in Idaho as well.
Also on Krueger’s slate is a comprehensive plan update as Victor seeks to reimagine its downtown core and encourage infill, while also addressing the flood of development applications that started hitting city hall last year. The Idaho Transportation Department has extensive Highway 33 improvements planned for the next decade, which Krueger said could vastly reshape the town of Victor.
To address these questions, Krueger said he wants to get feedback from community members, have one-on-one conversations, and encourage public engagement.
Reaching a broader audience isn’t a new idea for him; while in Oregon, Krueger created and co-hosted a podcast called “Pints with Planners.”
“The podcast was a way to try and take the mysticism out of planning—we’re not druids in the hills,” he said.
Victor and Teton County have seen a revolving cast of planners come and go in the past decade, but Krueger said he’ll stay as long as the people will have him.
“I love Victor,” he said. “And with the amenities Teton Valley has, we’re very excited about the opportunity to live in a place that speaks to us.”