Welch Is Out as Wauwatosa's Community Development Director

Nobody is talking about why she was terminated; public works and economic development departments will take over interim responsibilities.

After 10 years on the job, Wauwatosa Community Development Director Nancy Welch has been removed from her city post.

An e-mail from City Administrator Jim Archambo that was sent to city aldermen Friday afternoon said Welch had been permanently laid off "in anticipation of restructuring the position."

Welch's department includes the divisions of planning and zoning and of building and safety. She had also been responsible for physical plant maintenance.

In the interim, Archambo said, building maintenance was being assigned to Public Works Director Bill Porter, while planning and building inspections will be the responsibility of Economic Development Director Paulette Enders.

Archambo told council members that Welch had received a compensation package, including "a salary continuation period as well as a consulting retainer so the city can continue to tap into her expertise as needed on specific grant projects she was working on."

Welch said Monday that according to her settlement agreement, she cannot discuss the terms of or reasons for her departure. She is free, however, to talk about the positive aspects of her tenure with the department.

"Certainly, I think I've done a lot of good things for the city," Welch told Patch. "I was part of the negotiating team for GE (bringing its health care systems headquarters to the Research Park), I oversaw development of the city's comprehensive plan and the economic development plan.

"There's also the Burleigh Triangle master plan, the Village plan, the North Avenue plan, the Northeast Quadrant plan (on the County Grounds).

"I worked with UWM on Innovation Park and with the U.S. Department of Commerce for a $5.4 million grant to make it possible — which I literally pulled out of the air," she added.

"Then there's the $400,000 brownfields grant — I had just been given authorization for renewing that grant — the Drew's building redevelopment, the Little Red Store, Schoonmaker Reef — I was really looking forward to developing grants to make that happen."

Welch said it was not common knowledge that she had been working two jobs for the city for more than a year. Besides her duties with community development, she had taken over as de facto chief building inspector after the death of Dave Wheaton, who had held the position and was not replaced.

With that, she assumed direct supervision of the city's building inspectors as well as responsibility for maintenance of City Hall and the police station.

City aldermen said that they and all city staff were under orders not to discuss Welch's departure.

However, one official who asked not to be named because of the order said: "Nancy has been an asset to the City of Wauwatosa, and she's been treated very unfairly. She's a bastion of knowledge and that will be lost forever."

Ald. Linda Nikcevich, who is not running for re-election, said she had to respect the gag order as far as Welch's layoff, but she was displeased by the way the city administration had handled the matter.

"My concern is the bigger picture," she said. "I'm really, really upset that this restructuring went on without it going through the council.

"The city has gone through all of this long process, the demise of WEDC (Wauwatosa Economic Development Corp.) and creation of a Department of Economic Development and a Community Development Advisory Committee.

"Here we are after 3-1/2 years of this insanity, and suddenly we have a restructuring plan that the council should have been part of."

As recently as a few weeks ago, Welch's position and funding for the existing structure of her former department had been in place in the proposed 2012 budget.

Her removal and the department's restructuring come with final budget approval coming to the Common Council just a week from Tuesday.

A discussion of the restructuring was placed Monday on the agenda for this Tuesday's meeting of the Employee Relations Committee.

Welch was hired during the tenure of former mayor Terry Estness.

"I found Nancy to be a creative thinker," said Monday. "Her expertise and knowledge was a huge asset for the city."

Dick at SCORE November 09, 2011 at 03:57 PM
"Nobody is talking about why she was terminated; public works and economic development departments will take over interim responsibilities.".....What happened to any pretense, let alone actuality, of transparency in government?
TosaShortTimer2011 November 09, 2011 at 04:18 PM
Who the hell cares? She was making in excess of $100,000 plus a big fat benefits package, for what? The Burleigh Triangle? Covenent Healthcare having the best piece of tax free property on Hwy100? North Ave? We need to fire half of the lazy good for nothings that simply cost us all money in Tosa in city hall. Good Riddence, go screw up some other city Mrs Welch.
Cheryl Nenn November 09, 2011 at 08:00 PM
Nancy was a hard working public servant and she will be missed by many residents and community groups that worked with her to improve quality of life in Tosa. My feeling is that her job as community planner was terminated in favor of the new "economic development" push at the city. Economic development is a good thing, especially when done to rehabilitate derelict areas like the Burleigh Triangle (which is desperately needed in most people's opinions), but not if it comes at the expense of the environment, violates public transparency/comment processes, or sidesteps the law. A good community planner is essential to ensure that a community develops in an orderly and sustainable fashion, and that different aspects of planning--transportation, environmental, land use, zoning, economics--come together to create vibrant cities that people want to live in. I didn't always agree with Nancy, but she was a stickler for process and always responsive to community concerns. I hope the new planning advisory committee and replacement does the same.
Christine McLaughlin November 09, 2011 at 08:58 PM
The secrecy around this is the worst of it. If Welch's position was eliminated to give more support to the "new gal on the block," Ms. Endris, that's not pleasant but it's business as usual. This appearance of a gag order or other kind of silence-ordered-from-on-high suggests someone's being protected. Who? Not Welch, surely. What embarrassing or uncomfortable information needs to be suppressed? I doubt any impropriety is involved -- except by whatever administrators think they need to operate in secrecy. Just out with it. It can't be that bad--and if it is, all the more reason to expose it to the light of day. Stuff has a way of showing up. Ask Herman Cain. And Joe Paterno.
Lowell Marks December 25, 2011 at 08:24 PM
I lived off of Burleigh for well over 30 years. When driving East on Burleigh from the express way, I have been asked by a guest, if I made a wrong turn, are we in Detroit.


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