By Frank Lewis
Portsmouth City Manager Derek Allen has worked nearly non-stop since arriving in town to attempt to solve the city’s financial woes and now is asking for a break.
Allen is expected to tell Portsmouth City Council Monday night he wants to get away from the long days and sometimes nights and take advantage of an offer made by a member of Council.
Allen said he met with Fourth Ward Councilman Kevin W. Johnson on June 24 and at that meeting he said he expressed to Johnson that he was, “truly exhausted from the rigors of the position of Portsmouth City Manager.”
“The job has required many more hours than I could ever anticipated and it (is) not atypical to put in 12 hour days,” Allen said. “I indicated at my interview that I needed vacation in order to fulfill a prior commitment to co-lead a group of 25 individuals to Honduras Central America on a mission trip.” Allen emphasized the trip was, while rewarding, also exhausting.
“I stated in this meeting on June 24 that my time away would not re-energize me and at this meeting Councilman Kevin W. Johnson offered me a two week vacation and some four day weekends,” Allen said. Allen said his contract (Section 5(A)) which Council approved only allotted him the original two week vacation.
“Upon reflecting upon the offer and careful consideration I have decided to accept the offer that Kevin W. Johnson made,” Allen said. “This will require City Council action to amend the agreement. I do not need any language regarding occasional four day weekends.”
City Council will vote as to whether or not to extend the offer during the City Manager’s agenda portion of Monday night’s meeting.
Allen also is expected to address the issue of the proposed skate park, saying he has read two newspaper articles about the project.
“Unfortunately, once again there has been no information ever provided to the City Manager’s Office but rather everything has been run through a Council committee or done by private citizens absent the city administration,” Allen said.
Allen said he is not against efforts to develop and construct a skate park - “I just wish that the process was conducted differently.” Allen said the planning process has been flawed and that it is a much more intensive process than he believes anyone realized.
“To date it appears that there is a request to submit a grant when no site has been officially selected and vetted with the public,” Allen said. “I believe that there will be some opposition to the Mary Ann (Street) site even though (skate park spokesman) Mr. (Shawn) Dunne is quoted as saying, ‘I don’t think there’s any controversy over putting in a skate park here.’”
Frank Lewis can be reached at 740-353-3101, Ext. 1928, or on Twitter @FrankLewispdt.