Warbington outlines vision for City of Lawrenceville
By Katie Hart Smith
The City of Lawrenceville welcomed City Manager, Chuck Warbington to his new role, Friday, April 1, 2016 after being confirmed by a special called meeting of the Mayor and City Council in March.
Incorporated in 1821, the City of Lawrenceville is steeped in a rich history. It is the second oldest city in metro Atlanta, located approximately thirty miles northeast from the downtown area. The county seat of Gwinnett now boasts a population of over 29,000 citizens. For Warbington, Lawrenceville holds a special place in his heart, a seventh generation ‘Gwinnician.’ Glancing out of his office window, the white steeple from the Lawrenceville First Baptist Church caught his eye. He pointed and said, “That’s where I went to kindergarten. My mom taught kindergarten and music classes there for twenty-five years.” Awash in fond childhood memories, Warbington recalled, “I use to run up and down these streets as a child. I even played all of my recreational league sports in Lawrenceville. My first baseball coach was former Mayor, Rex Millsaps.” Warbington’s passion to effect positive changes in Gwinnett is evident. He served as the Executive Director for the Gwinnett Village Community Improvement District for the past ten years in addition to numerous board appointments and is the Chairman for the Gwinnett County Planning Commission. Focused on outlining a vision for the future of Lawrenceville, he is currently working with former City Manager, Bob Baroni during the transition over the next few months. Baroni, who served the city for forty-two years, retired in February, 2016. “Chuck is a tremendous asset and he has great ideas. People in the community have very nice things to say about his work.” Baroni commented.
In his first interview to discuss his vision for the city, Warbington outlined his top three priorities. “First, I am raising awareness regarding customer service. The City of Lawrenceville is a brand and we have the ability to positively impact those we work with inside and outside of our community. We are blessed to have dedicated and loyal employees. I want our staff to greet others openly, treat each other and our customers respectfully, and answer all phone calls and emails promptly. Second, I will see that the various city departments work collaboratively and proactively on projects. Lastly, I am dedicating time to meet with each department. I plan to shadow them in their respective roles so I can learn as much information as I can about their job duties.” Warbington embraces the chance to ensure the departments run efficiently.
Adopting a new motto, ‘We are here to serve,’ Warbington plans to work with Mayor Johnson, City Council members, and the community at large to build on the city’s foundation and its assets. “We are so fortunate to be the home to Georgia Gwinnett College, Gwinnett Medical Center/Northside Hospital, Aurora Theatre, Lawrenceville’s Historic Downtown Square, and Gwinnett County government. In addition, there is an unprecedented opportunity to develop forty acres in the downtown area.” Referring to the Lawrenceville Lawn, he continued, “I expect as plans are unveiled, the project will begin to attract developers in the next six to twelve months.” Warbington added, “Plans will also move forward in the next three years on the development of the Georgia Gwinnett College corridor. Lawrenceville welcomes the students and the faculty to be a part of the ‘live/work/play’ energy in the downtown area.”
Additional economic drivers to the city include the movie and television filming industry. “Lawrenceville is an attractive area that draws people in. Production companies fall in love with Lawrenceville’s charming character.” Numerous movies and television shows have filmed in Lawrenceville to include “Sleepy Hollow,” a popular supernatural-themed crime drama that airs on the FOX network.
Warbington, a Georgia Tech graduate with a Bachelor of Civil Engineering degree, revealed his leadership style. “After graduating from Leadership Gwinnett, I came to the realization that I wanted to do more in my community - to take an active role and be involved at a local level. My approach is methodical and process driven. I love information and facts. I pride myself on being decisive and collaborative so that we can make the best decisions possible. It’s also important to be flexible. While we may make the best decision based on the facts as we know them at that time, things can change. We must be willing to adapt and adjust to those changes.”
The married, father of four children looks forward to leading the charge that will attract millennials to the City of Lawrenceville. “I’m excited about bringing new opportunities to the city and watching it flourish. My hope is that Lawrenceville/the Gwinnett Community will be called ‘home’ to an eighth generation of my family.”
For more information about the City of Lawrenceville: www.lawrencevillega.org