BRATTLEBORO — Town Manager Peter Elwell announced he will be retiring at the end of the year, calling his work here “the most satisfying of time” his career.
“After growing up here in Brattleboro and then living away for almost 35 years, coming home has definitely been part of what has made these past six-plus years special,” he said during the Select Board meeting held remotely Tuesday. “But, far beyond the personal pleasure of living again in this community and region, I am grateful to have had the opportunity to work with so many dedicated and talented people both inside town government and in the community we serve.”
Hired for the job to start in January 2015, Elwell returned to Brattleboro, where he was born and raised, from Florida, where he was town manager in Palm Beach for 14 years. His father, Corwin “Corky” Elwell, served as town manager in Brattleboro for nearly 30 years from 1960 to 1989.
Peter Elwell graduated from Brattleboro Union High School in 1980, attended Middlebury College and received a master’s degree in government administration from the University of Pennsylvania. He worked for Palm Beach for 26 years and briefly served as township manager in Roxbury, N.J.
His decision to announce his intention now to retire Dec. 31, he said, was to enable a smooth transition of leadership in town government and provide ample time to find his successor.
“The people I appreciate and admire here are too numerous to list,” he said. “We in Brattleboro are fortunate to have more than our fair share of people who are committed to unselfish purposes and to achieving positive change through collaborative action.”
Elwell expressed special appreciation for Assistant Town Manager Patrick Moreland and former Town Executive Secretary Jan Anderson, who recently retired, and he thanked the Select Board that hired him and all the boards since then.
After about 36 years in municipal government management, Elwell said he looks forward to serving as a volunteer and taking a “supporting role.”
Select Board Chairwoman Elizabeth McLoughlin said the town has been “so fortunate” to have Elwell as town manager “and we will continue to rely on him until the very last minute, all that we can.”
McLoughlin described Elwell’s achievements as being “structural in nature.” She also noted how with his tone, he has strived to maintain a civil society.
“I think the best we can do to honor him and his dedication to the town is to let him step down with our thanks,” she said.
Board Vice Chairman Ian Goodnow said he’s “so appreciative” of Elwell’s work.
“The interconnectivity that you created is going to be an immense job for us to fill, and I am excited to work on that process and that responsibility with you and the Select Board and this community,” Goodnow said. “And I believe that we will move forward in a really positive direction.”
Board member Tim Wessel called Elwell’s impact on the community “great,” and his “kindness and thoughtfulness” was praised by board member Jessica Gelter.
“My family and I love Brattleboro,” Elwell said. “My wife and I are deeply invested here and plan to stay. Our children left for college from Florida and came home from college to Brattleboro. They both are living in this area with their partners and we are grateful to have them near. So, this is not ‘goodbye’ or even ‘see you soon.’ This is, I hope, just another transition for me, my family, our town government, and our community in the normal evolution of relationships that is so essential and inevitable in life.”