Buckman named interim city manager

GLADSTONE — The Gladstone City Commission unanimously voted to appoint Eric Buckman as the new interim city manager Monday night — relieving Gladstone Public Safety Director Ron Robinson from the task. The appointment comes after Darcy Long was terminated from the position of city manager on Aug. 1.

“I’ve spoken to Eric Buckman and he would be interested in being interim city manager,” Mayor Joe Thompson said.

Buckman is no stranger to working for the city or as an interim city manager. Buckman worked as the interim city manager after Darla Falcon was fired from the city manager post in 2016.

The need for an interim city manager came about again after Long was fired after a removal hearing on Aug. 1. The commission voted to begin the process of removing Long from his position at a special meeting on July 16.

Long was provided a notice in writing of the commission’s intent to seek his removal from office for misfeasance, malfeasance and nonfeasance.

Misfeasance, malfeasance and nonfeasance are types of failure to discharge public obligations existing by common law, custom or statute.

Robinson was appointed as interim city manager on July 16. He was to be the interim city manager until a more permanent interim city manager could be selected.

During Monday night’s meeting, Thompson and Commissioner Dave Phalen both said they had heard from or talked to other individuals who were also interested in helping the city out during its time without a city manager.

Commissioner Darin Hunter said he felt Buckman was the obvious choice given the fact Buckman was well aware of current projects and issues the city is facing, while also having spent many years with the city.

“For him (Buckman) to even entertain the … notion of coming back under these conditions, I find it very appealing that we look towards him for some serious guidance at this point in our juncture with everything that is going on,” Hunter said.

Commissioner Brad Mantela echoed Hunter’s sentiments of Buckman knowing the city well — not just as a past employee but as a past interim city manager too.

Phalen inquired what the timeline would be for replacing the city manager and if the city would go through the Michigan Municipal League (MML) to find the replacement again. He said the last time it took the city over a year to replace its city manager.

Thompson said he hopes by the end of the year to have a new city manager.

“I don’t know if we want to go through (MML) or not,” he said.

Mantela voiced his opinion on finding a new city manager without MML.

“We know what we’re looking for — we kind of know with the last search it wasn’t that far off from the past,” Mantela said. “We’re familiar with the skill-sets we’re looking for.”

The city commission unanimously voted to appoint Buckman as the interim during Monday night’s meeting.

Commissioner Dave Nemacheck was excused from the meeting.

In other business, the commission:

– heard public comment from Bob Tardiff, a city retiree, inquiring about the status of the post retirement health care benefits since the city commission sent its amendment of PA 202. Thompson said the amendment had been sent to the state and they were just waiting to hear back.

– heard public comment from Mike O’Connor inquiring about the status of the Turner Report in regards to the DDA. Thompson said the city is working on it.

– adopted a resolution for the 9th Street special assessment district, which includes the original full scope of the project, and set a public hearing for the district for Aug. 26. The commission also set a special meeting to discuss the funding of the 9th Street project for next Monday, Aug. 19 at 5 p.m.

– approved Thompson and City Clerk Kim Berry to sign the purchase agreement between the city and Paul Coppo, an owner of a portion of the North Shore property. The agreement allows the DDA/city to market the North Shore property at a predetermined rate for a set amount of time. The agreement with Coppo included: sale price of land would be $775,000; $25,000 in non-refundable earnest money be provided; closing costs, survey and taxes would be covered by purchaser; and price is secured for 24 months.

– approved interim city manager to work with Don Bacon to secure $20,000 through an agreement from the Housing Commission for the purposes of carrying out the remaining legal activities for their project. The legal work remaining to be completed include: create a developers agreement that details payment expectations for work completed and for future work; create a ground lease on Birch Street, which will allow work to progress in a timely manner; and vacate the East half of Birch Street.

– approved the use of $25,680 of the Dr. Mary Cretens funds to complete the paving project at the cemetery.

– approved the facade grant request for DDA funds of $14,000. The DDA met on June 18 and approved a facade request for Patrick Johnson on the Rialto Center. The prep work for the Mural through the Patron City Program includes brick repair, tuck pointing, sandblasting and painting. The total project costs for the prep work is $28,932.

– went into closed session for the evaluation of the city assessor.