Looming bridge work drives city manager search
Glenwood Springs City Council will begin soliciting resumes for an interim city manager and expects to launch its search for a permanent manager soon in an effort to avoid any gaps when current City Manager Jeff Hecksel leaves his post.
“We have to be cognizant that a major construction project could be starting in the city in January, and it would be really good for us to have a manager on board as soon as possible,” Mayor Michael Gamba said, referring to the anticipated start of the Colorado Department of Transportation’s two-year Grand Avenue Bridge replacement.
Ensuring that the city manager’s position is not vacant for any period of time as that project commences will be crucial, as that person will be a key liaison between the city and CDOT to help minimize and mitigate any construction impacts, Gamba said.
“It is a lengthy process to get a permanent city manager in here, and we need to begin by defining the qualities and characteristics we want to see in a new manager,” he said.
Gamba announced at the Nov. 5 City Council meeting that the city will likely be entering into an agreement with a search firm to conduct the application, interview and selection process. In the meantime, the city will also obtain resumes for an interim manager should that become necessary.
Hecksel, the city manager in Glenwood Springs for the past 11 years, has been actively searching for a new job since council decided in early August not to renew his two-year rolling contract, under which he was allowed a year’s notice of nonrenewal.
He and council also recently signed a separation agreement ending his employment on Feb. 1, 2016, but allowing him to continue to receive severance pay until he lands a job or until next August, whichever comes first. The agreement also allows the city to begin its search while he is still employed.
Hecksel’s contract calls for up to nine months’ severance on his $130,874 salary should council decide to let him go before his contract expires, or however many months are remaining.
Since his tenure as Glenwood city manager came into question last spring following the election of two new council members, Hecksel has been a finalist for two city manager jobs, one in Delta and another in Moses Lake, Washington.
The Moses Lake job was offered last month to another of the six finalists, while the Delta City Council back in June decided to pass on its three finalists for the manager job and relaunch the search.
In early August, a 4-3 Glenwood Springs council majority of Gamba, Todd Leahy and newly elected members Steve Davis and Kathryn Trauger voted to end Hecksel’s contract, saying it was time for new leadership.
bridge plan update
Meanwhile, on the Grand Avenue Bridge preconstruction planning front, council also met in a work session last week with new CDOT Region 3 Program Engineer Steve Olson to work through possible project budget cuts before the bridge project team meets with the Colorado Transportation Commission on Nov. 19.
About $2.8 million in potential cuts have been identified, as project planners seek additional CDOT funding to make up an estimated $10 million to $15 million shortfall, depending on final construction contract negotiations.
Some of those cuts to the overall anticipated $115 million-plus project cost will come from various aesthetic “betterments” that were added to the bridge design in negotiations with city leaders and citizen groups.
Olson indicated to council that CDOT is in final negotiations with its joint venture construction manager, general contractor, Granite/RL Wadsworth, for a construction contract.
If not successful in that effort, CDOT would have to put the project out to a competitive bidding process, which would likely result in a project delay of several months, Olson said.
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