By Joe Capozzi

Town Manager Tracey Stevens is leaving Ocean Ridge in September, a departure town commissioners will discuss Monday, July 25 at an 11:30 a.m. special meeting at Town Hall.

10654440274?profile=RESIZE_180x180Stevens, who replaced Jamie Titcomb in March 2019, submitted her resignation on Friday, July 15, effective in 60 days. She plans to take a job as town manager in Haverhill. 

“I really wasn’t looking to leave Ocean Ridge because I love serving the residents here. However, I was presented with an opportunity that I couldn’t pass up to manage the Town of Haverhill which aligns with my professional and personal goals,’’ Stevens told The Coastal Star in an email. 

“I will truly miss serving the residents of Ocean Ridge and working alongside some of the best colleagues in local government any Town Manager could ask for. I am confident that the extremely competent and professional staff that Ocean Ridge employs will carry on my care and compassion for the Town.”

A majority of town commissioners said they are sorry to see Stevens go.

“She has a very good offer and probably a little less stress,’’ said Mayor Susan Hurlburt, who spoke with Stevens in person on Friday and today, July 18. 

“She proved herself to be a true professional at every turn. She doesn't do things lightly. This must have taken a lot of thought.’’ 

Stevens, whose salary is $132,500 and who also served as finance director, had worked for the town for six years. Her last day will be Sept. 12 unless the commission decides to let her go sooner.

“A sad day for our town indeed,’’ Vice Mayor Kristine de Haseth said in an email to Stevens and the other four commissioners on Friday. 

“Tracey was hands down the most professional, transparent, impartial and hard working town manager we’ve ever had. She has helped us transition to a sustainable, wonderfully staffed town with an admirable level of service on all fronts. She will be sorely missed and difficult to replace,’’ de Haseth said in the letter.  

“But don't think for one second that the inmates will be allowed to run the prison again. Those days are in the rear view mirror.’’

Commissioner Martin Wiescholek called Stevens’ departure “a huge loss for our town.

“I can only hope we find a replacement who is equally as good as she is and equally as committed. I know she is very well liked with the residents, and her open door policy I'm sure will be missed by many when she is gone,’’ he said.

Commissioner Steve Coz, a frequent critic of Stevens, did not immediately return a call from The Coastal Star

“Everybody should be able to move on to bigger and better things and I wish her luck,’’ said Commissioner Geoff Pugh, who has served on the commission through five different town managers. “Through five town managers, she has been a reasonably efficient town manager.’’

While the other three commissioners gave Stevens glowing reviews in her most recent evaluation, Coz and Pugh raised questions about her abilities and effectiveness. 

Hurlburt and Wiescholek are up for election in March 2023. If either loses, that could lead to a shift in the balance of power on the commission. 

“She told me she was leaving because she was unexpectedly offered a position that she could not refuse,’’ Wiescholek said. “And not knowing what her employment status is after the ‘23 election, she probably didn't want to take a chance on being unemployed in April 2023.’’ 

Her departure comes a month after Town Clerk Karla Armstrong announced she was leaving to attend law school. 

“We were short-staffed as it was in the beginning before those two left and we are putting a whole lot more strain now on our remaining employees, which could potentially trigger them to be overworked and at some point decide they will seek other employment as well,’’ Wiescholek said.

 

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Comments

  • @PJ, I have read nothing that suggests the use of "reply all" is in and of itself a violation of Florida's Sunshine Law. I think that determining whether an email reply constitutes a violation requires a contextual inquiry beyond the facts kown to us here.

  • When the Town Manager sends an email to Commissioners, Planning and Zoning members or Board of Adjustment members there is a warning from the Town Manager to the recipients to not "reply all"  in accordance with Sunshine Laws. 

  • Ocean Ridge is a revolving door. Town employees come and go at an alarming rate.  The commissioners are to blame.  They've created a toxic work environment and they know it.  Meanwhile, major issues like the leaking septic tanks go unaddressed.  Keep fighting amongst yourselves and polluting the ocean.  

  • Kudos to the Vice Warden for telling it like it is. The inmates of Ocean Ridge are ruled by petty tyrants obsessed with more and more codes to restrict our lives and infringe on our rights. Our code book is over 500 pages long, but every month more are added while the existing codes are only selectively enforced.
     
    One obvious symptom is the town's state of sign pollution. Planned are direction signs on How to walk on Old Ocean, Where to walk on Old Ocean; 13 mph speed limit signs.  There are currently 7 Private Beach/No Trespassing signs on the beach in front of the warden's house prohibiting inmates from being on the beach.  Meanwhile, construction noise, traffic and debris goes on for years affecting the quality of life of those unfortunate enough to be neighbors. 
     
    This town used to be an open, friendly beach town. Now we are being disparaged and harassed if we dare to question or have an opinion.
     
    Our quaint beautiful beach town has surely changed in character under the present regime.
     
  • Kristine, given that myself and my neighbors have been arrested for accessing the beach at the top of our road per our corrupt Mayors "conflicted interest" sign installations claiming that Turtle Beach has the right to keep us off our prescriptive easement to Florida's most sacred natural resource; I'm pretty sure you meant the aphorism as it was interpreted.

    You claim to be "pro environment" but how many times have those signs at Turtle Beach washed away and been replaced only to be washed away again? And how many times have our residents, my neighbors, registered complaints about them? How much time has The Town invested in gaslighting those of us who care about keeping our beaches clean, safe, and open to the public? Susan is littering the ocean to further her agenda of keeping people off a beach she never uses, and further more has no right to keep people off of. Not very neighborly.

    I'll be back soon so have our police department ready to arrest me because I'm going to be using my beach. I'm sure you're all very busy keeping various avenus of corruption under the radar so no worries, I'll be sure to call the local police department when I get in. Take me back to County again for being on the beach I've been using my entire life. This inmate definitely shouldn't be running any prisons on Susan's watch.

  • Janet, I have found nothing to substantiate your claim that using "reply all" is in and of itself a violation of § 286.011, Fla. Stat. (2021). If you are going to spread rumors of legal impropriety, you might cite the sources of your suspicions.

  • I don't understand why our Vice Mayor is allowed to do what I believe violates Sunshine laws (reply all in an email is a violation from what I've read) and continually disparage the people of our fine town.  This email is just another example of her speaking in a negative manner about people while in her official role.  She's also done this from the Dias referring to residents in very unacceptable terms.  Her apology below isn't even sensible, if she wasn't talking about residents or employees then who were these inmates she was talking about? Clearly this is a serious issue and needs to be addressed. 

  • To clarify my quote in the article, I regret that I used a certain expression.  I never meant to offend anyone and was not referring to our residents, and especially not our staff. I used a figure of speech that was never intended to be taken literally.  I would never characterize our residents or staff in that way and I apologize to anyone who was offended by it.

    My email was in praise of our Town Manager.  The figure of speech, did not refer to residents in any way.  The intent was to share my opinion that we need to continue to move forward with the high standards established by her.  Nothing more, nothing less.

This reply was deleted.

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