One of York's newest residents is a father of three and the type of customer local restaurants might want to please.

Since starting in his new role as York City's economic and community development director last month, Leonardo McClarty said he's used some of his free time to discover the beauty of Kiwanis Lake and the Springdale neighborhood. He's taken in a York Revolution baseball game.

But he remains on the hunt for kid-friendly restaurants that can accommodate the needs of his twin little girls.

"I've got to have double high chairs and that kind of deal," he said with a laugh.

Aside from his search for the perfect dining experience, McClarty is working through the challenges of starting a new job in a different state.

McClarty grew up in the Atlanta area and spent most of his life there. In fact, he said, his family has roots in Atlanta dating back several generations.

But, after a decade as the president of the DeKalb Chamber of Commerce in Georgia, McClarty said he wanted "to see how things are done elsewhere."

"I was ready to move and do something different," he said.

His role: He started in York on June 2. As department director, McClarty will supervise the city's housing, health and permits and zoning bureaus.

He'll also serve as the city's liaison to the Redevelopment Authority.

At an annual salary of $112,500, McClarty is the highest-paid city employee.


McClarty said he's still forming first impressions about York. But, so far, he said he sees strengths in the city's close proximity to major metro areas like Philadelphia and Baltimore.

He's also impressed with the menu of higher-education options nearby, such as York College, Penn State York and HACC.

McClarty said he's interested in exploring what types of industries and businesses might be a good fit for York.

Setting goals: As a manager, McClarty said he's enthusiastic about data analysis.

"I'm big on being able to establish some metrics, some goals," he said.

For example, he said, he'd like to dig into the RDA's property disposition numbers to see what's working and what isn't working.

McClarty said he's also interested in investigating the best practices of cities facing the same challenges as York.

In terms of specific projects, McClarty said he's getting up to speed on the Northwest Triangle, Royal Square and York's pursuit of a City Revitalization Improvement Zone designation.

The CRIZ program aims to attract business and jobs to cities by offering developers state and city tax revenue to pay off project debt.

York officials are preparing for the next round of applications to the state, which could happen any time during the next few years.

"To use some sports vernacular, I kind of see it as a sprint. And right now, we don't know when the race is," McClarty said.

When it comes to CRIZ, the city needs to "stay loose," he said.

McClarty said he wants to improve the department's communication with the public and business people.

Social media are a part of that strategy, he said.

Already, McClarty has started a department Twitter handle, @YorkDECD.

Clear communication among department staff is critical too, he said.

"I like to make sure I communicate what the goals and expectations are," McClarty said.