New administrator confident city can overcome challenges

By MIKE ANTHONY

Crestwood’s new city administrator, Frank L. Myers, told elected officials and residents last week that he has every confidence the city can overcome the challenges it is facing.

Myers’ comments were made Feb. 14 at the first Board of Al-dermen meeting he had attended since being named city administrator.

Mayor Roy Robinson announced Jan. 10 that Myers was his choice to serve as city administrator and the Board of Aldermen voted unanimously during a Jan. 17 closed session to name Myers the new city administrator.

Myers thanked Robinson and the board for their unanimous support in naming him the new city administrator.

“To give the citizens a little background on myself, I have 22 years of local government experience. Seventeen of those years have been as a city manager or a city ad-ministrator,” he said, noting that early in his career he served as city manager of St. John.

“My background has been primarily working in fiscally distressed communities … (I’m) very excited to be here. I understand this community has gone through some challenges. I have every confidence that these challenges can be overcome,” he said. “I have seen, quite frankly, more difficult situations in one or two previous communities I’ve served in.

“When the Board of Aldermen interviewed me, they did tremendous due diligence in asking me a wide range of questions about my background experience and certainly Mayor Robinson did, and I’m real excited,” Myers continued. “I think my skill sets and my background matches very well where this community is at this time, and I’m looking forward to moving together — moving forward with you and with the mayor and the board and our employees to achieve some great things here. So thank you for this opportunity.”

Myers later discussed the state of the Westfield Shoppingtown Crestwood, noting city officials recently met with West-field representatives. He urged aldermen not to be discouraged, saying he believes the shopping center “still has a tremendous amount of synergy to it.”

In response to concerns expressed by some aldermen, Robinson said at the Jan. 24 board meeting that while proposed im-provements to the Westfield Shopping-town Crestwood may be slow in materializing, plans are in the works to revitalize the shopping center.

“Certainly we asked some very tough questions about vacancies and partnering with them on sharing information, and they’re going to be considering those things,” Myers told the Board of Aldermen Feb. 14. “They also shared that there’s going to be some development opportunities at the mall, and shared with us a few ideas regarding the theater property that’s going to be going through some major renovation and improvement. And also they’re looking to come before us very soon with some outlots on the site for some new development …

“We had also shared with them our concern, the general condition of the mall, and wanted to know what their strategic plan was. And they indicated that they are — although there’s certainly some synergy that’s going to be taking place at the mall, some new investment, they are looking at some longer-term strategies for that property, and they believe those strategies will be implemented on more of an incremental basis rather than all at once,” the city administrator said.

“And as they work through those, they’re going to be certainly making us aware and hopefully partnering with us …,” he said, noting the city’s economic development specialist, Ellen Dailey, is arranging a meeting with the mall’s general manager “so we can follow up more specifically about some of the vacant space there and how we might be able to help them in filling that space.”

Myers noted that he had visited the mall the previous weekend to purchase a gift for his wife for Valentine’s Day.

“I was particularly impressed with the amount of traffic in that mall and every time I’ve been in there, there’s a lot of traffic,” he said. “I’ve eaten at a couple of res-taurants at the mall property. There’s a lot of traffic. I know citizens are concerned about the vacant stores and rightfully so, but I will tell you, I’ve seen some malls in much worse shape than that mall. That mall still has a tremendous amount of synergy to it. There’s still an awful lot of activity there, and a lot to build upon. So I just want to encourage you. Don’t get discouraged as you see a few vacant storefronts …

“There’s just fierce competition in the retail industry right now, and I just think that as we work with them and we work to hold them accountable to make that the very best property possible that we’re going to see some results,” Myers added.

Myers succeeds Don Greer, who had served as both city administrator and po-lice chief since December 2002.

Aldermen voted in August to approve Greer’s returning to his full-time duties as police chief and discontinuing his city ad-ministrator duties when a new city administrator is hired and begins work.

Myers issued a statement last week saying Greer has announced his retirement as police chief, effective July 15.

“During the period between now and July 15, 2006, Chief Greer will assist the city in the transition to new Police Department leadership,” Myers stated. “Chief Greer has provided ample notice of the effective date of his retirement, and the city will have the opportunity to conduct a thorough search for Chief Greer’s successor.

“Upon his retirement, Chief Greer will have 16 years of service to the city, both as police chief and city administrator, and the city wishes him well in his future endeavors,” the statement concluded.