Rockland pays severance to community development director who resigned abruptly

Posted Oct. 17, 2012, at 10:27 p.m.

ROCKLAND, Maine — Rockland’s Community Development director abruptly resigned last week after the city agreed to pay her four months of salary and other benefits to drop any potential claims.

Audrey Lovering has been the city’s community development director since June 2011, when she was hired by former City Manager Rosemary Kulow.

The resignation agreement was signed on Oct. 10 by Lovering and on Oct. 11 by the city manager.

The agreement calls for Lovering to be paid a lump sum of $21,666 — equivalent to four months of her annual salary — to “resolve this dispute.” Nothing in the document explains what the dispute was about.

City Manager James Smith said Wednesday he could not comment on the reason for her resignation. He said there was no resignation letter. He provided the agreement at the request of the Bangor Daily News.

Smith did say that he and the community development director did not have any disagreements over the department’s direction.

The agreement also calls for the city to pay Lovering’s health insurance premiums through Jan. 31, 2013. The city also agreed to pay $2,000 to her law firm, Kelly and Collins of Belfast, as a lump sum for legal fees and expenses.

Smith said Lovering’s last day of work was Oct. 1.

“It is understood and agreed that this agreement does not constitute an admission by the city that any action it or its employees or representatives have taken was unlawful or wrongful,” the agreement states.

Lovering is barred from making any public statement that disparages the city, councilors or employees of the city, according to the agreement. If she makes any such statement she would be required to repay the settlement money.

Lovering could not be reached for comment on Wednesday.

Rockland Mayor Brian Harden said he could not comment on the matter since it concerned a personnel issue.

One of Lovering’s duties had been to work with Rockland’s Economic Development Advisory Committee. Committee member George Terrien said Wednesday he had heard that Lovering was no longer with the city but he did not know why. He heaped high praise on Lovering, however.

“I thought she did an absolutely fabulous job,” Terrien said.

The advisory committee member said Lovering took a different approach than most to economic development, an approach he strongly supported.

“She believed that social justice was dependent on the economic health of a community, opportunities for employment and good education,” he said.

Lovering was involved, along with other organizations, in starting a summer lunch program for children and their parents this year. She also was active on a transit committee that looked at a possible regional bus service.

Lovering was successful in getting a grant for the city to study brownfields in the community, sites where there might be contamination. She also worked on the Rockland Harbor Trail project.

She also was working with the economic development advisory committee on the future of Camden Street once Walmart relocates to Thomaston. A construction crew began this week cutting a path off Dexter Street for a road for construction vehicles to use for the Walmart Supercenter project.

In the final weekly report she submitted to the city manager, dated Sept. 28, Lovering wrote that she had met with the Boston-based manager of the brownfield grant and gave her a tour of the working waterfront. She also listed working with Rockland Main Street Inc. to make final the $10,000 green grant to be used for the Harbor Trail in the Thorndike parking lot. She had met with the Penobscot Bay YMCA on the results of a healthy community grant, and had worked with other city officials to identify 30 tree planting sites throughout the city.

Before being hired in Rockland, Lovering had been a development associate for Developers Collaborative in Portland. She also had served as executive director of the Skowhegan Main Street program.

Lovering has a master’s degree in development administration and planning from University College London, Bartlett School, in England. She also has a graduate certificate in nonprofit management from the University of Southern Maine and a bachelor of arts degree in international relations and global affairs with a concentration in business and marketing from Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Fla.

Smith said he would soon be advertising the community development director position.

“I wish her all the best,” Smith said.

SEE COMMENTS →

ADVERTISEMENT | Grow your business
ADVERTISEMENT | Grow your business