by Sam Hieb
…Which means he’s getting out of the city managing business…..Greensboro City Manager Jim Westmoreland announced his retirement on Friday, the day before the News & Record called into question Westmoreland’s sworn testimony in an affidavit that the city did an “internal review” in 2015 of a 2010 study concluding Gboro needed more downtown parking. The 2010 study is used as justification for two $30 million downtown parking decks, one of which is tied up in court in a dispute with an entertainment venue over an easement.
Westmoreland defended himself in an email to City Council members:
In his email, Westmoreland said he read the News & Record’s report with “interest and some disappointment.”
The article, he said, “questions both the honesty and integrity of statements I made in my official affidavit …”
He said transportation staffers “simply reviewed the past study, determined that no conditions had changed since the past study was performed in 2010 (i.e., the city had not added any new parking decks or off-street parking lots since 2010, no major employers or businesses had left downtown since 2010, but based on the parking requests of downtown businesses and the new hotel project, off-street parking demands were increasing), so the needs and parking deficits identified in the 2010 parking deck location study remained in 2015.
“In addition, this internal review was not a new study by GDOT and did not produce any new or additional work products,” he wrote.
The News & Record also reported that “on at least two occasions” Westmoreland “used patrol officers from the Greensboro Police Department to take pictures of activity behind Cone Denim,” the entertainment venue that is suing the city to delay construction of the Elm Street parking deck. Cone Denim says the city’s use of eminent domain to seize the easement—an alley by which acts load and unload their equipment—would compromise their business.
It’s hard to believe this is all a coincidence. Westmoreland is still young–52 years old–and given his considerable experience with the city, it’s reasonable to believe he could have the city manager’s job for as long as he wanted. The Greensboro’s city manager’s position has been somewhat of a revolving door over the last several years, so the last thing the city wants to do is conduct another search.
The question is whether or not Westmoreland has something to hide or if he just doesn’t want to deal with the aggravation anymore—remember the city is still struggling with the (now) $80 million downtown Tanger Center for the Performing Arts. But aggravation’s what you get when you’re in charge of hundreds of millions of taxpayers’ money. That said Westmoreland should count himself blessed that he can “retire” at age 52. The rest of us should be so lucky—no hard feelings, just sayin.