BRATTLEBORO — Looking back on his seven-year tenure helming the town's affairs, Brattleboro Town Manager Peter Elwell may not have enjoyed every single moment — but he can say he has no regrets.
"I'm fully grateful for all of it," said Elwell during his last public meeting with the Select Board. "I just feel so fortunate to have grown up here, to have had a good career and the family experiences I had elsewhere and then to come back here with my family and finish my career here with you."
Members of the Select Board took the opportunity to thank Elwell for his work.
"The way in which you have done your work and the way in which you have led the town staff over the years ... is exemplary," said Select Board member Daniel Quipp. "I have learned a lot seeing how you do your work and occasionally in my better moments, I can try and emulate that."
Board member Ian Goodnow said thank you on behalf of the town for the "time and energy and passion and work you've given to this town."
"I've always felt Brattleboro was very lucky to have you in a leadership position taking this town in the right direction," Goodnow said.
Like Quipp, Goodnow credited Elwell with helping him learn to manage a town's affairs.
"I also work to incorporate some of those things into my leadership and into my life as I grow into being a member of this community," Goodnow said. "I'm sorry to see you leave but I am also really happy for you. I look forward to seeing you when you're not the town manager."
Elwell took the job in Brattleboro in January 2015, returning 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.
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.
Elwell has always been approachable, engaged and a great listener, said board member Jessica Gelter.
"It made the bureaucracy and the scariness of town government dissolve completely," she said. "You made it so human and so approachable ... I really love that about your leadership."
She also credited Elwell with being willing to learn and change "as we've gone through some really hard stuff in the last couple of years."
Board member Tim Wessel expressed thanks for "so many people here in Brattleboro," and for Elwell's "steady hand and guidance" during a critical time for the town.
In a video farewell posted to the town's website, Board Chairwoman Elizabeth McLoughin said Elwell's legacy will be the kindness he showed to everyone he interacted with.
"Beginning with his ability to explain it all, whatever it is, from the reasoning behind pay-as-you-throw to the elements of police reform, Peter Elwell explains it all, listens to us all, and meets us where we are," she said. "He brings us together for a very important purpose — good government and community and, to that, he brings the best part, his humanity, his humility and his kindness."