PARCS and Checks: The Manteo Way

Hi, I’m Tara (actual, real-life April Ludgate for all you Parks and Rec fans), and this semester I interned with the Town of Manteo, which could practically double for Pawnee, Indiana, give or take a Sound. All jokes aside, the Town does really great work, and I’ve had a great time there this semester. Here’s a quick look into my Mondays:

I took this picture one afternoon, and it was included in the Facebook post I wrote advertising the Land Use Plan Survey, which was published on the Town’s Facebook page.

The short bike ride between the guest house and Town Hall is one of my favorite parts of the day. As I navigate the quaint houses snuggled together on the skirts of downtown, I can hear the laughter as I bike behind the school, and feel the sun on my face. The day is young, and promises to be filled with the friendly faces I have grown accustomed to in my two months interning with Melissa Dickerson of the planning department, nestled into a back room of  Town Hall.  Tom the orange tabby is the first to greet me after I emerge from the bathroom, my first stop after locking up my bike (I’m still not convinced this is necessary, but I always do it anyways). After a quick scratch behind the ears, it’s go time. As I make my way back towards my computer, a stop along the way is mandatory—Kasey, the Town accountant, always has a bowl full of dum-dum suckers perched on her desk, and every day, I check to see if she has my favorite kind. Which, of course, she never does. “Try the peach tea! It’s good!” Starting the day with a little sweetness can’t hurt, so I take a peach tea sucker and a lemonade too, wish both Kasey and Kim a good morning, and continue on my way. My mentor, Melissa Dickerson, Town Planner, and real-life Leslie Knope, is already seated at her computer, juggling the many responsibilities her appointed position brings her. Between dealing with the public, chasing after vice principals, answering to the commissioners, humoring the mayor, and taking care of her one-year-old son, her plate is always full.

Included in the Land Use Plan Survey was a question investigating public opinion regarding potential uses for several vacant properties around Town. This graph represents the variety of answers we received, and the bars are colored according to category.

Unless anything unusually exciting or pertinent is happening that day (PARC meetings, department-head meetings, project biddings, construction project check-ins, drive-arounds…never a dull moment!) that requires a field trip, a majority of my time has been spent working on the Town’s Land Use Plan Survey, which will collect and analyze public input in preparation for an updated Land Use Plan, something that will hopefully take the Town of Manteo into the future. My current mission is data analysis—it’s been my job to analyze data collected from Survey Monkey and arrange it in an easily-digestible manner to be presented to the Commissioners later this month. Not only have I been recording public suggestion, and how popular those prepositions are, I have also been coding and categorizing the data to be presented in a variety of charts, over which I have complete jurisdiction. During a semester that has been quite stressful dealing with the uncertainties of the Capstone, it’s been nice being assigned a project composed of easily accomplished, albeit intensely time-consuming tasks. In a few short weeks, my time in Town Hall will be over, and I can honestly say I’ll miss all the friendly faces I have come to admire during my short tenure with the Town of Manteo. To Melissa, Kermit, Steve, Kasey, Kim, Becky, and James, I thank you for all your time and attention–Pawnee has nothing on Manteo.

Published by

Tara Smith

Morehead Planetarium