The much-beleaguered City Administrator, John Roche, told City Council members last Monday that he will retire soon.
Roche said the reason for his abrupt announcement is due to health problems. He was treated for melanoma in the fall.
Roche has not given Council an exact date but said it will probably be before the summer.
“I’ve been having some medical issues,” he said. “One of my concerns is spending another summer in the Southwest. You can always get a reoccurrence of a melanoma.”
Roche has been the target of criticism for city projects. Most notably, downtown business owners claim Roche mismanaged financing and development of the “Renaissance on Route 66” project’s Phase I — the park on First Street.
Now that the project is beginning Phase II, Roche has decided to remove himself from managing it.
“John… has become a lightning rod and so he has purposely stepped back from being an active participant in Phase II of the Downtown (project),” Mayor Jim Boles said.
Boles said that as for Roche’s retirement, the Council is not demanding an exact date.
“He’s a professional and he won’t leave us holding the bag,” he said.
Councilman Robin Boyd defended Roche, saying he has probably accomplished more projects than have any of his predecessors.
“I think with someone who sits back and does nothing they criticism him for doing nothing, but I think the criticism is heavier when your actually doing something,” Boyd said. “Personally, I think he’s done a great job.”
Roche has served as City Administrator since 2000 but started in 1995 as the Development Services Director and also serves as Economic Development Director for Winslow. He previously retired from public life after 31 years with the city of Anaheim, Calif.
Roche signed a two-year contract in August, the first ever for a City Administrator. The contract was signed over the objections of 205 citizens on a signed petition.
Part of the reason for the open date is to leave enough time for Roche to sell his house. Roche said he and his wife plan to travel more.
Roche said that he wishes Winslow a great future — one that will happen when differences are put aside.
“I think it would be good for all the various factions in town to try and come together and work on what would make Winslow into a great city,” he said.