Former Hyattsville Mayor Bill Gardiner is returning from the beaches of Chile to once again take up a local government position — only this time with the city of College Park.
Filling a position left vacant for a decade, Gardiner began his duties Monday after the College Park City Council unanimously approved his hire Jan. 7.
Gardiner, 51, served eight years as Hyattsville’s mayor and had been temporarily living in Santiago, Chile, since 2011 while his wife, Anita Sanyal, taught at a university there. He applied for the College Park position last year after he and his wife decided to move back to Prince George’s County.
This won’t be Gardiner’s first time working for College Park. In 1989, Gardiner interned for the city planning department while pursuing his master’s degree from the University of Maryland, College Park, he said. During the internship, he performed fiscal analyses under city planning director Terry Schum.
In his new role, 25 years later, Gardiner said he will help make budget decisions, assist in updating the city’s strategic plan, and develop sustainability policies and practices.
College Park City Manager Joseph Nagro, who was the last person to hold the assistant city manager position in 2004, said Gardiner’s experience will be a valuable asset to the city.
“We looked at what he had brought into Hyattsville over the years,” he said. “He understands municipal government.”
Gardiner said he was responsible for helping raise city revenue and staff salaries, encouraging economic growth and improving the city’s sustainability.
“I think we raised the level of expectations for what the city could deliver and what it could attract in terms of investment,” Gardiner said. “And that includes our own investment in our infrastructure.”
While in office, Gardiner also pushed for improvements to city parks and streets.
Jim Chandler, Hyattsville acting city administrator, worked with Gardiner during the former mayor’s terms. Although Gardiner will now be employed by a neighboring municipality, Chandler said he is looking forward to working with Gardiner in his new role.
“On behalf of the city, we’d like to congratulate him,” Chandler said. “Bill’s long legacy of community service speaks for itself.”
Nagro said he interviewed eight candidates from several states, including Nebraska, for the assistant city manager position.
Councilman Fazlul Kabir (Dist. 1) said Gardiner’s pro-business approach and mayoral experience made him stand out.
“We were looking for someone who could be working as a liaison between the city and the other agencies, especially in the state government and also the county government because we don’t really have that kind of interface,” Kabir said. “His experience will be very useful.”
The City Council made special accommodations for Gardiner by waiving the requirement for him to live within College Park limits, since he already owned a home in neighboring Hyattsville.
Gardiner said he will return to the Hyattsville home he owns and had been renting out, which is located about two miles from College Park.
“I’m not opposed at all to living in College Park, but for right now as we transition back, it would be a bit more challenging to rent or buy a place in College Park,” he said. “I’m close enough to bike to work.”