Delray city manager finalists
Both finalists for Delray Beach city manager live far from the city, but one has a local connection.
Mark Lauzier is an assistant city manager in Tacoma, Wash., the Seattle suburb that is home to 200,000 people. Previously, he served as city manager in Parkland, the bedroom community west of Deerfield Beach.
Caryn-Gardner Young was an assistant city manager in Parkland. She has that same job in Delray Beach. So if the city commission hired Lauzier on Tuesday, it would reunite him with Gardner-Young.
Though that tie “is certainly a positive,” Lauzier said, in seeking to succeed Interim City Manager Neal de Jesus, it was not the only reason. Lauzier, who said his first big government job was in Broward County and who later was an assistant city manager in Pompano Beach, has been trying to get back to Florida. His in-laws live in Deerfield Beach and Palm Bay.
In April, Lauzier was a finalist for the manager’s job in Coral Springs. A month later, he applied in Cape Coral, on Florida’s west coast. He’s a semi-finalist for the job in Jupiter. No interviews have been scheduled there.
Among other things, Mayor Cary Glickstein and the city commissioners will want to know why Lauzier left Parkland for a consulting job in the private sector and how he wound up in Tacoma. When I spoke with Lauzier on Friday, he declined to discuss those topics until he had spoken with the commission. Those interviews take place today.
Lauzier did say that he sees Delray Beach as “just the place to be, with all that’s going on.” As one of two assistants in Tacoma, Lauzier supervises planning and development, public works and human resources. His strengths, he said, are “budget and management.” Both are areas city commissioners have said are priorities. Lauzier spent three years as a budget analyst for Broward County. He also spent eight years as a police officer in Wethersfield, Conn., a suburb of Hartford.
The other finalist is Edward Collins. He is a vice-president of Civil Science, Inc., an engineering firm with offices in Utah and Idaho. Collins works in Lehi, Utah., which he knows well. Collins was Lehi’s manager for a decade.
After what news reports suggest was a successful tenure, Collins resigned in 2006 during a dispute between the mayor and the city council over the city’s form of government. Lehi had grown from 10,000 people to 40,000, built several new public facilities and broadened the employment base. One council member said when Collins resigned, “I have been able to know Ed as a person, I have learned of his abilities and of his kindness towards other people and his willingness to see the city of Lehi achieve great standards and goals. Ed Collins leaves behind a great legacy, he will be missed.”
Also of note in Collins’ background is his abrupt rejection last year of the manager’s job he had accepted in South Portland, Maine. Two days after being hired, according to a news report, Collins wrote to the mayor that he was withdrawing “after careful consideration of the entirety of my experiences in the selection process.” Though Collins had received the offer, he said that “it is clear to me that I am not the right person for the job at this time.”
Mayor Tom Blake pronounced himself shocked. Negotiations had begun on a salary of $115,000 and a car allowance. “He just sent the letter,” Blake said. “That was it.”
Had Blake taken the job, it would have been a homecoming. Blake is a Maine native, having been born in Bangor. (Lauzier also is a New Englander, born in Rhode Island.) Collins spent seven years, from 1987 until 1994, working for towns in Maine with populations no higher than 1,500 and a county whose population is about 3,000. He worked in West Valley, Utah, for two years before taking the job in Lehi. A message Friday to Collins’ office voicemail was not returned.
In November 2014, the last time the commission chose a permanent manager, only three commissioners cast votes. Adam Frankel and Al Jacquet were not present.
That vote for Don Cooper was unanimous. On Tuesday at 5 p.m., the full commission will vote. The finalists know that the March election could reshape the commission or leave it largely unchanged. How the commission chooses the manager will be as important as the choice.
Downtown campus update
At its Tuesday workshop meeting, the Boca Raton City Council will hear the delayed follow-up presentation from Song & Associates on the proposed downtown government campus.
Since Song’s last presentation, we have learned that the Related Group has offered to build a downtown performing arts center in exchange for the city giving Related the Mizner Park Amphitheater land on which the company would build housing. No council member has expressed support for anything but discussing that idea as one of many associated with the campus. Still, council members Andrea O’Rourke and Scott Singer have stated their opposition to any swap involving the amphitheater.
Coastal Link train stop in Delray
After choosing a manager on Tuesday, the Delray Beach City Commission will get an update on plans for a downtown stop on the proposed Coastal Link expansion of Tri-Rail.
Commissioners will hear ideas from residents who attended an August meeting on the topic. Coastal Link is not a sure thing. It will depend on negotiations between Tri-Rail and Florida East Coast Industries, which owns the FEC rail corridor. But regional planners very much want Coastal Link to happen, perhaps as early as 2020.
Six city-owned parcels are under consideration as the location for a station. All are east of the FEC track and west of Northeast Fourth Avenue, south of First Street. Among the many questions is pedestrian access from west of the track. Recall that the city is creating a pedestrian barrier in that area to keep people from cutting across the tracks. A woman was killed last year after stumbling. Her husband could not move her in time.
The planning, however, goes beyond just the station. The city might create a Transit Oriented Development area within the half-mile radius around the station. Within this area, development would focus on getting people out of cars and into other means of transportation. Related issues include connectivity to the existing downtown, parking, lighting and preserving the city’s railroad history. It will be one of many promising, complicated topics awaiting the new city manager.
Medical marijuana ban
Delray Beach just banned medical marijuana dispensaries, but only for a year. The city will revisit the ban by that point or sooner, depending on whether the Legislature loosens the restrictions it placed on cities.
At Tuesday night’s regular meeting, the Boca Raton City Council will consider the dispensaries. Sentiment has been running in favor of a ban, since the Legislature gave cities only the choice of prohibiting all dispensaries or allowing them wherever they allow drug stores.
For those who oppose a ban, Delray Beach may have offered an option that Boca Raton hadn’t considered. Both cities had issued moratoriums, but their lawyers have advised them that they must decide on a ban.
After the Boca council hears about the downtown campus, council members will consider whether to move public comments to a spot earlier in the meetings. Presumably, residents who wish to speak don’t like to wait until the council concludes other business. If the often predictable public comments go on and on, however, those who have actual business would have to wait.