December 15, 2017 12:00 a.m.
Last Friday, as the work day was coming to a close, Mr. Marshall McCrary requested a brief meeting with me. During that meeting, Mr. McCrary informed me of his intention to take advantage of an early retirement opportunity available to him as he neared age 55 (early next year). While aware that many senior City staff are nearing retirement age and contemplating such retirement within the next few years, the January 1, 2018, effective date of Mr. McCrary’s retirement was unexpected.
Mr. McCrary was the second City employee that I met when I began the interview process for the Fernandina Beach City Manager’s position (the first was City’s previous Community Development Director, Ms. Adrienne Burke). Marshall, who was serving as the Interim City Manager, and Mr. Jeremiah Glisson, serving as the chauffeur, took the four City Manager candidates on a tour of the City on that September afternoon. I had asked if Lisa could ride along since she was part of any potential decision, and since space was available in the City van, she was able to join us. While she was somewhat uninterested in City facilities such as water and wastewater plants, the airport, maintenance buildings, and recreation facilities (the kind of stuff that City Managers enjoy seeing), we both remember the part of the tour that took us past Bosque Bello Cemetery: Marshall’s comment was that the numerous headstones represented past city managers. His “gallows” humor earned me a sideways glance and an arched eyebrow from Lisa.
A native of South Carolina, Mr. McCrary attended Clemson University, earning a Bachelor of Science degree (Mathematical Sciences) and a Master’s degree (City and Regional Planning). Following his formal education, he served several South Carolina communities, including the City of Clemson as its Planning Director. In 2004, he relocated to Florida and served as a Nassau County planner.
In September, 2006, Marshall began his tenure with the City of Fernandina Beach as a Senior Planner. In less than a year, he was promoted to the Community Development Director position, overseeing the planning, building, and code enforcement staffs. In 2013, he was appointed to the position of Deputy City Manager.
Prior to my arrival, with no sitting city manager, Marshall served as the Interim City Manager for several weeks. After my appointment, Marshall continued to serve as the Deputy City Manager, but with the departure of Ms. Adrienne Burke (who succeeded Marshall as the Community Development Director), Marshall resumed leadership of the Community Development Department (moving back to the first floor at City Hall).
Mr. McCrary has been a strong asset for this community. He has groomed most of the Planning staff, providing direction and guidance based upon his many years of service. He encouraged staff to pursue their passionate interests to serve the City: some staff was dedicated to historic preservation, others to environmental planning, to downtown development, and to bicycle and pedestrian amenities.
He led the effort to instill better communication and cooperation between the Planning and Building staffs. As is the case in some communities, the lack of coordination between those two inherently related departments likely contributed to a frustrating inefficiency. Marshal has been responsible for improving that coordination and cooperation.
On infrequent occasions (significantly less than many realize), complaints regarding the Community Development Department reach my office. Marshal invariably provides appropriate documentation regarding the issue, making it somewhat easy for me to offer a final recommendation.
Under Marshall’s leadership, City staff has prepared and delivered on-site training to local home builders to educate those builders on the City’s building process and how that process can be facilitated. Following recent discussions with Chamber of Commerce officials, City staff will prepare similar training and information for commercial property and business owners, likely to be scheduled in February and June.
Mr. McCrary’s staff is typically the first staff encountered by visitors to City Hall. The staff that greets those visitors displays a professionalism that is instilled by Marshall. His contributions to the atmosphere at City Hall and the quality of life within Fernandina Beach are often underappreciated.
Best wishes, Marshall, for your next life chapter, both personally and professionally. You have established a level of professionalism, integrity, and dedication that truly reflects your role as a public servant.