Ocean Shores refills project manager role

Becky Leach takes lead on public construction

After three departures from the Ocean Shores public works department in the last 18 months, the city has hired a new project manager, Becky Leach, to help guide public construction, including a number of high-profile undertakings.

Leach’s hiring comes after former Public Works Director Nick Bird took a job with the city of Aberdeen in 2021 and former city engineer Robert Lund left later in 2022. After the city had trouble finding replacements for those positions, it chose to restructure the department, leading City Administrator Scott Andersen to assume the role of public works director and adding the project manager position.

The city then brought on Tim Hippensteel to fill the new position in December, but Hippensteel quit several weeks later, leaving the position vacant again.

The job appealed to Leach, who had been living in Ocean Shores since October and working remotely out of Seattle, as a construction project manager for a property management company.

“We’re happy to be out of the rat race being in the city,” Leach said.

Leach has a project management professional certification, an international designation for project managers, as well as a construction management certification from the University of Washington.

Her time at the Seattle company spanned four years, before which she worked over a decade in retail, opening Bed Bath and Beyond Stores across the Western United States.

She said the people-skills learned from those jobs — along with her communications degree from the University of Denver — will likely be the most valuable tools in her new gig.

“The most challenging part of the job is being able to pivot in the middle of the day or on the spot,” Leach. “You’re expecting that this is what you’re going to do today and all of a sudden you get a phone call and you have to do something completely different.”

Ocean Shores has more public works projects than at any time in recent memory, according to Andersen, who has been with the city since 2019. Sheer volume of tasks shouldn’t pose a problem for Leach, who grew accustomed to managing up to 15 projects at a time in her previous role.

Instead, the unique physical environment of Ocean Shores could pose a new challenge for Leach. While she’s no stranger to permits, Leach said she’s still learning about the heap of environmental regulations that accompany projects in the city’s complex natural environments, like wetlands.

That’s the case for the current High Dune Trail and fire break projects. Leach hasn’t yet had the chance to acquaint herself with some of the city’s other high-profile projects, including a potential tsunami tower.

She said she looks forward to meeting with the rest of city staff and the community as a whole.

“This is really the nicest group of neighbors I’ve ever had,” Leach said “I’m really looking forward to serving the community in this capacity. It’s the best move we’ve made.”

Contact reporter Clayton Franke at 406-552-3917 or clayton.franke@thedailyworld.com.