A lot of what the City of Clovis is today can be traced back to the vision of one man. The buildings, the infrastructure, much of it has been created in the vision of Dwight Kroll.
Kroll, the city’s planning director since 1981, retired last Friday after holding the only job he has had since he graduated from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.
“It was not anything that I thought about doing. From a planner’s perspective. Being here long enough to see projects that were once on your desk become real is pretty neat,” Kroll said.
Kroll has seen the city grow in population from 38,000 to just over 112,000 since he took the job.
As he worked on projects for the city, however, members of the community made clear that they wanted it to retain a smaller-town atmosphere.
“That was a real push for that plan, to create sub-areas of Clovis that would still feel like you get to know your neighbors because your kids probably went to the same school. You probably shop together,” Kroll said.
Some of his favorite things he has worked on include the still-in-development Loma Vista, Clovis’ first suburban village, and Centennial Plaza, which has developed into an entertainment center with restaurants and coffee shops.
But, Kroll said, perhaps the project that is his favorite is the historic Tarpey Depot, which acts as Clovis’ city center and once served as a train station for the San Joaquin Valley Railroad connecting Fresno to Friant before it was shipped from southeast Clovis to downtown. He said that he didn’t realize how important it was to the community at first.
“So many people came out of the woodwork to go, ‘hey we can help put this together or we can donate’. It was really neat to see that project happen for the depot to come home.”
So, what does he envision for the city in the future?
“If I had a wish, it would be that the community of Clovis continues to be a community. I say that from the standpoint that I think there is a lot of love for the community, from the community members,” Kroll said.
“People are very possessive of Clovis and the Clovis way of life. I would hope that the community still takes pride in the community and comes out and serves it, whether it’s the city council or the Planning Commission or you are volunteering your time to the community. It’s just neat and honestly, there isn’t too many communities out there that have that sort of sense of perspective and personality.”
When asked about life after retirement, Kroll, who is 62, plans to marry his fiance and help raise her seven children, along with finishing up a rock climbing guide book, of which he has written several for the Western Sierras.
“It will probably take a couple of years to do it. That will kind of be a side project when the kids aren’t keeping me too busy.”