Woodstock is in the market for a new community development director.
Richard McLeod earlier this announced he's resigning from the post in Woodstock to take the same position with the city of Alpharetta. McLeod will start with Alpharetta on Nov. 5. McLeod replaces Diana Wheeler, who resigned from the post earlier this year.
City Manager Jeff Moon said he's also sad to see McLeod leave the city.
"I am happy for Richard for the opportunity that this gives him both personally and professionally," he added. "I am sad for us from the standpoint that anytime you lose an employee of Richard’s ability, experience and tenure with the city, it is hard to replace them." Moon added the city has an "excellent" relationship with the city of Alpharetta, "so I know that we can reach out to Richard anytime that we need to access him."
Moon said he will discuss with the Woodstock City Council the timeline to replace McLeod on Monday. He noted he anticipates interviewing candidates both internally and outside the city during the "open" process.
"I doubt very seriously that the position will be filled by then, so I anticipate that we will have an interim director for a period of time," he said, adding that position will be filled internally. "I don’t see why we can’t have the process wrapped up and the person on board before Christmas."
The pay scale for the position ranges from $68,330 to $103,972, the city manager noted.
Mayor Donnie Henriques also noted he was "sad" to see McLeod leave as “he’s such a good fit for the job.”
"I understand it’s a great opportunity for him and I’m happy for him and his family," he added.
Alpharetta Assistant City Administrator James Drinkard said city leaders and staff members are excited to bring McLeod on board. Alpharetta received 96 applications for the position and began interviewing seven applicants between Sept. 5 and Sept. 21. The city on Sept. 26 narrowed down the field to four applicants and began interviewing candidates.
The city was looking for someone with the "ability to look at development proposal and step beyond it to look at the greater community and surrounding properties" to find the best possible development that can occur with that proposal.
Also, since Drinkard serves on the Woodstock Planning Commission, he noted he's had the unique opportunity to work closely with McLeod.
"Certainly you look at what he was able to help accomplish in Woodstock and the mark he’s made on that community," he said. "What better resume could you find?”
McLeod will have a salary of $115,000 and the standard city benefits package.
McLeod said the decision to accept the opportunity was "bittersweet," noting that while joining Alpharetta's staff is a great professional opportunity, added he's "sad about leaving Woodstock."
"I’ve invested the last decade plus of my life here and I think we've done some really remarkable things here," he said. "I’m going to miss that and the people. I've built some really great relationships here."
McLeod, who started as an intern with the city, said one of his greatest accomplishments was laying the groundwork to transform the city's downtown from an area with no activity to one that's "hustling and bustling."
"I think we’ve created a place where people want to be, whether they are eating, shopping and hanging out," he added.
He also said he'd hoped to see the city's Greenprints initiative further along in development, but added he's glad to see the city taking steps towards building the trail network. The Greenprints plan will build a network of multi-use trails throughout the city, which would eventually create a system of trails residents can use to navigate the city.
McLeod has been employed with the city for nearly 10 years. He served as an intern for one year and also served briefly on the Woodstock Planning Commission.
He earned his bachelor's degree in geographical information sciences with a focus in urban planning from Kennesaw State University and is working on his master's in public administration from Kennesaw State. He lives in Woodstock with wife Shawn and they have two children.
While his transition will be bittersweet, McLeod said he believes the city is on the right track to continue experiencing the growth and success it's witnessed over the last three years.
"The city’s future is in good hands, I think, politically and from the staff’s perspective," he said. "I think we’ve set a course for our future success."