She made it official on Friday afternoon. After 31-1/2 years as the Wayne County Planning Director, Sharon Lilla is retiring. Her official last day will be July 8th. Sharon received her Bachelors degree in Geography from SUNY Oswego, which she explained was about as close to a planning degree as one could get in the 1970s. She worked in the Seneca County Planning Department for 16 months when the Director of Planning job opened up in Wayne County in 1980. “I was the only one of four interviews that had any relative experience. The rest is history,” Sharon recalled.
Sharon recalled the early days when she feared political ramifications with every move. It was then-Savannah Town Supervisor Don Colvin who encouraged Sharon to move forward and do what she thought was best for the County. “It was Wayne Gretsky who made the comment that you will miss 100% of the shots if you don’t shoot,” said Sharon with a smile.
Sharon has been the go-to person for decades when the County or municipalities needed advice or help. She secured millions of dollars for the County on grants allowing municipalities to move forward on numerous projects. She readily admits there have been stumbles and setbacks along the way, mentioning the ECCC and Hotchkiss properties on the negative side. She was the driving force behind the County’s recycling program and headed the Western Finger Lakes Solid Waste Authority in addition to her duties as Planning Director.
Talking about her job Sharon has no regrets. “I am the luckiest woman on the planet. This has been a great, great career.” Upon her retirement from both the Planning Director and Solid Waste Director, Sharon said she plans to follow through on some artistic pursuits. She also will concentrate on non-profit volunteering with Alasa Farms and Cracker Box Palace.