The San Ramon City Council joined San Ramon residents Tuesday to recognize two retiring city officials with more than 55 years of combined service to the city.
Planning and community development director Phil Wong is retiring after more than 31 years with San Ramon, and interim parks and community services director Esther Lucas is stepping away after 24-plus years working for the city.
The presentation Tuesday night at City Hall began with Lucas being introduced to the audience by interim parks division manager Kathi Heimann, who commended Lucas for being a "force in the Parks and Community Services Department."
"From her humble beginning on March 9, 1992 at the San Ramon Senior Center to her final position today as the parks and community services director, her career has had many bright moments. And she's leaving a legacy that includes multiple facilities, parks, events and an influence on both staff and community," Heimann said.
Lucas, who began her career with the city as a senior recreation coordinator for the city's senior programs, was the city's first certified recreational therapist.
Under Lucas' leadership, senior programs were created, performing and visual arts programs for all ages were expanded, and the city developed some signature events that San Ramon still holds to this day, such as the Art & Wind Festival, according to Heimann.
"I want you to know how proud I am of each and every member of my staff. From the bottom to the top, they're the best of the best and the cream of the crop. It has been my privilege to have the opportunity to lead them all these years," Lucas said after receiving a proclamation from Mayor Bill Clarkson.
Next, Wong was introduced by planning division manager Debbie Chamberlain, saying, "To his employees and colleagues in San Ramon, he's been a leader, a mentor, a coach and a friend. With unwavering dedication and commitment to the city, it has shown in his 31 years of commitment."
Wong was first hired by the city in September 1984 as an associate planner in the Planning Services Department. He was later promoted to senior planner, planning manager, and finally, planning and community development director in 1993.
Under Wong's leadership, many specific plans in San Ramon were made possible, as well as the start and completion of a variety of office, commercial and residential projects, such as Bishop Ranch expansion, the Gale Ranch and Windemere developments and the new City Hall, which was hosting its first council meeting Tuesday night.
During his 31 years, Wong was known for his customer service and the relationships that he built on trust and respect, according to Chamberlain.
Clarkson said Wong's vision enhanced "the economic vitality and quality of life for the residents of San Ramon."
"It's been an honor and it's also been a pleasure working for the city for the past 31-plus years. I've accomplished a lot and I'm proud of those accomplishments, but it's not without a lot of help," Wong said.
He thanked his family for the sacrifices that they made during his tenure with the city, and he also thanked council members past and present, city leadership and his staff that "made him look good."