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Jim Gallogly set to retire after 22 years with City of Northville

Jim GalloglyWhen asked what he does, Jim Gallogly, director of the Department of Public Works, quips that he’s the town janitor.

In reality, he has a domain that includes clearing leaves and snow from City streets as well as repaving them; working with utilities to ensure that people have clean, accessible, affordable water and functioning sewage lines; and maintaining and repairing City-owned facilities and properties. It’s a tall order for one man with a staff of only six.

His last day will be Jan. 11, the day he turns 66. The vacancy will be filled on an interim basis by Chris Porman, who also is DPW director for the City of Plymouth.

Being a civil engineer with B.S. degrees in construction technology from Purdue and in engineering from Tri State University, he knows what it takes to build a road or install a new sewer line. Yet, he also has to manage the finance and accounting portion – paying contractors on time and preventing cost over-runs. His master’s degree in public administration from Western Michigan University helps with that aspect.

Prior to joining the Northville City staff in May 1995, Gallogly worked for the cities of Battle Creek and Kalamazoo, and for a consulting firm.

In his job, he frequently interacts with the Downtown Development Authority (DDA), neighborhoods, City Council and the Beautification Commission, schools, the Police Department, Fire Department, Finance and Personnel. “I think that’s a positive,” he says, noting that he enjoys helping other departments when services overlap.

“We’re here to provide service to the community,” said Gallogly, who, as City engineer, also serves on the Building Authority Board. The board establishes policy and administers City-bonded construction projects.

A good day is when he takes on a project and accomplishes it, and gets some positive feedback along the way. A bad day is when projects don’t go as planned, and problems arise that adversely impact residents, local businesses or local governments. The solution may be to implement a work-around; at worse, it means trying plan B, which is often costly.

“People don’t know what we do, they only know when it doesn’t work – if the sewer gets backed up or the water doesn’t turn on,” he said.

In his two decades with the City, he has learned that people are happy when work continues at a steady pace. If there’s a slowdown in road construction or sewer pipe replacement, people don’t see work progressing and wonder why. Often, the vendor or a supplier has run into a problem that needs to be addressed before the project can continue.

He takes pride in talking about issues with residents and others – staying calm and listening to their point of view as he tries to work out a solution. If a street is about to be paved, he sends a letter to each homeowner on the block explaining what to expect during the construction.

“Jim’s experience and dedication to the community will be sorely missed,” said Pat Sullivan, City manager. “His kindness and good humor were always a part of his dealings with residents and coworkers. We wish him a long and happy retirement.”

The most dramatic change he has witnessed during his tenure was the transformation of downtown Northville from a sleepy town with an assortment of storefronts, ranging from classic and chic to commonplace. Main Street was reconstructed with new facades to preserve its historic roots. And the newly formed DDA brought events to town, which drew people who returned again and again – boosting sales at restaurants, bars and stores. The City is now one of the premier downtown destinations in Michigan.

A longtime Novi resident, Gallogly and his wife, Lorna, will move permanently to their lakefront house in Northern Indiana, which they recently renovated. The couple has two sons: the younger lives in Pennsylvania and the older lives in Grand Rapids, with his wife and two young children.

Gallogly says he enjoys doing outdoor work and plans to do more of it in his retirement. “I will be one of those people with a spotless lawn.” He’ll have more time for family get-togethers with his adult sons, grandchildren and siblings, who also live on the lake in Indiana.

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