Vail town manager announces resignation
“I’m basically going home,” he said.
Home is Jackson Wyo., where McLaurin, 49, was first hired as a town planner in 1987 before being promoted to town administrator in 1990.
“Vail has been a terrific place to raise my children,” said McLaurin, who has served as Vail’s town manager for the past nine years. “People who say there is no sense of community here, have never lived here.”
McLaurin said his reasons for leaving are two-fold.
“I’m leaving because this opportunity in Jackson arose,” he said.
“(I) enjoyed every minute of it here,” he added. “(But) these jobs do grind you down. I think a fresh set of eyes and a fresh perspective will be extremely beneficial for this community.”
Friends, former colleagues and employees and Vail give him high marks.
“He is so unassuming that you first don’t recognize his grasp of issues and then when you get to talking to him and hear how qualified and how thoughtful he is, you are surprised,” said Vail Mayor Ludwig Kurz. “We didn’t make his job easy at times, and we asked him to reduce staff and reduce expenditures and he managed to do both of those things but keep a very high level of morale. That’ isn’t an easy thing to accomplish.”
“Even though we may have disagreed on many things over the years, we developed a deal of respect for each other,” added Jim Lamont, an ex-town planner who represents the interests of Vail’s 3,000 or so second-home owners.”I have always respected his perspective. This is going to be a major loss for the community.
“He always heard me – he not always agreed with me – but more often than not he lent me a sympathetic ear,” Lamont added.
Lamont credited McLaurin with transforming Vail’s problems into issues that could be solved. Under his reign, for example, affordable housing went from a perennial promise to a real department with a real plan. From that sprang the Vail Commons development of 76-units in West Vail in 1997 and the 14 North Trail Townhomes in 2000. For 2003, Vail will see the addition of 143 affordable rental units at Middle Creek. McLaurin is also credited with bringing the roundabouts to Vail in 1997, when European-style intersections were still widely second-guessed.
“Bob has been an extraordinary boss to work for,” said Suzanne Silverthorn, the town’s community relations officer.” I think it’s because he shows so much support and confidence in a person’s ability to do the job. You do your very best so as not to disappoint him.”
Russell Forrest, director of community development, said McLaurin has been a great mentor that made him apply himself as a leader within his department.
“Most of all he as created a wonderful work environment,” Forrest said. “We really have an outstanding culture within this organization that respects the individual.”
Former Avon Town Manager and personal friend Bill Efting, who left his job managing Vail’s closest municipal neighbor in October, described McLaurin as “probably the second-best manager that valley has had.”
“Bob’s style of thinking through projects and a little bit of a sense of humor, went a long way,” Efting said, adding that McLaurin stands out among his peers. “He definitely has the respect of town managers anywhere.”
Geraldine Haldner can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 602, or at email@example.com.
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