Wednesday March 27, 2013

BRATTLEBORO -- Building a Better Brattleboro Executive Director Andrea Livermore has announced that she will be resigning from the downtown development organization on April 12.

When BABB presented its budget to the Selectboard earlier this year, the group said it wanted to reduce the executive director’s position to part time to cut down on expenses.

That budget was adopted by Town Meeting Representatives this past weekend, and Livermore announced Tuesday that she would be resigning next month.

"I may continue in a limited capacity (one or two days weekly) through the end of the fiscal year in order to ensure that the transition to a more limited staff model goes as smoothly as possible," Livermore wrote in a letter she sent out Tuesday. "So I likely will be around for a bit."

Livermore was not available to speak to the Reformer.

BABB President Donna Simons said the board was surprised by Livermore’s announcement, which she made at the group’s meeting Tuesday morning.

The new budget does not go into place until July 1 and Simons said the BABB board planned on having Livermore as its full-time director for the new few months. Simons said the board has not had any time to discuss the announcement, or decide how it is going to fill the position.

"We really haven’t had any time to decide which way we are going to go with this," Simons said. "Andrea has served the organization well and this just forces us to deal with this sooner rather than later. I’m sure there is someone out there who will be able to step in and help us."

BABB is going through a number of big changes, including bringing in more volunteer help to improve business downtown, as well as relinquishing its ownership of the Robert H. Gibson River Garden.

Simons said the past few months have been busy as BABB put together its budget, made the decision to reduce the director’s hours and then put together the River Garden RFP.

"It feels like we were just starting to catch our breath," she said. "We’ve had a lot on our plate the past few months."

Simon said BABB only decided to reduce the executive director’s hours in light of the continuing economic downturn.

She said there was still plenty of work to do to support downtown Brattleboro.

The newly approved budget includes an expanding reliance on volunteer help.

BABB has owned the River Garden for almost 13 years, and after trying to make the property financially viable under a number of different plans, the group announced earlier this year that it would be either selling, or turning over management of the public space to a new group.

It takes about $50,000 annually, according to BABB, to keep the doors open at the River Garden.

The group says it will favor public use proposals over for-profit ideas when considering the RFPs.

RFPs are due by April 30, and the successful RFP will be announced during the week of June 3.

Howard Weiss-Tisman can be reached at hwtisman@reformer.com, or 802-254-2311, ext. 279. You can follow him on Twitter @HowardReformer