Lewes City Manager Ann Marie Townshend has announced her resignation, ending a six-year tenure running the city’s day-to-day operations.
The city made the official announcement in a press release Aug. 28. Townshend is taking a position with a consulting firm in Dover.
“I will be building on the foundations of my career, helping cities and governments with land use, multimodal and possibly climate resiliency planning,” she said.
“I love Lewes. I’ll miss what I do here. It’s a demanding, 24-7 job, but I enjoyed it,” she said.
“We are appreciative of Ann Marie’s commitment to Lewes over the past six years and we wish her well moving forward in her new role,” said Lewes Mayor Andrew Williams in the release.
“She was always very professional and did an excellent job with management and planning and with communication,” said former Lewes Mayor Jim Ford. Ford had left office before Townshend started, but said he had worked with her in his current role as chair of the Open Space Alliance.
Townshend was named city manager in 2017. She previously worked for the City of Dover as director of planning and community development.
She said her proudest moment in Lewes was seeing the Dutchman’s Harvest development unfold.
“It was gratifying that we were able to [work together] and take a leap to address the affordable housing issue, have some units affordable to low-income residents. It could be a model for other communities,” she said.
Townshend also pointed to the menhaden fishing net reel controversy, which was sparked when the Lewes Historical Society moved the reel from Canalfront Park to its Shipcarpenter Street campus without permission from the city.
“It was tearing the community apart,” she said. “We listened to the community, stood by city codes, changed the code and reached a solution that was acceptable,” she said.
She said she learned a lot managing the city through COVID.
“We did things out of necessity that are now part of everyday life. We were one of the first cities to make our meetings available on Zoom,” she said.
Townshend said parking is among the biggest challenges she faced.
“The divisiveness of the issue and managing the limited supply of parking we have. It’s always going to come up,” she said.
Williams said mayor and city council has begun planning the transition process.
Assistant City Manager Ellen Lorraine McCabe will assume the responsibilities of the city manager during the transition.
Townshend said she expects to remain on the job until mid-October.