Downtown Dover Partnership seeking new leader

 

The Downtown Dover Partnership is looking for a new executive director after Joan Cote submitted her resignation on Jan. 15. (Delaware State News file photo)

DOVER — A void exists on the Downtown Dover Partnership after Joan Cote, the organization’s executive director, submitted her resignation to the board of directors on Jan. 15.

Tina Bradbury, operations manager for the DDP, said she wasn’t surprised by Ms. Cote’s resignation.

“I understood her reasonings why,” she said. “She explained her reasonings why and you never fault a person for a decision to move on to a better opportunity or make a life change, whatever the case may be. You just have to respect their decision.”

Ms. Cote, who was hired as the DDP’s executive director on Aug. 31, 2016, could not be reached for comment.

Ms. Cote came to the DDP after working for a quarter century for USO Delaware. She is the founder of the first United Service Organization on Dover Air Force Base but she is most proud of the fact that she developed the Families of the Fallen Heroes center on the base.

When Ms. Cote was hired, she said downtown Dover had everything in place to achieve success.

“You need to capitalize on Dover’s unique strength to benefit its citizens,” Ms. Cote said. “There’s so many (other) downtown areas that don’t have the various pieces of the puzzle that we have – the historical aspect of it, the shops that are already here, the potential for new, diverse, unique merchants that we can bring in to downtown Dover.

“The DDP has historically done some great things. They’ve provided more parking spots, they’ve provided more lighting and a lot more of that is going to come.”

Now it is going to have to come under the direction of a new leader.

The DDP has since put an ambitious timeline together. It hopes to hire a new executive director by April 16-30.

Diane Laird, who serves on the board of the DDP, said candidates will be sought both locally and nationally to fill the position.

She expects the job to be posted in local and national advertisements from Feb. 5-10.

“We’ll do a national search and we’re confident we have a good process in place to find a very qualified executive director,” Ms. Laird said.

“The ideal candidate will have very broad knowledge on downtown issues as how they relate to economic development and historic preservation.”

Maureen Feeney Roser will serve as the organization’s interim executive director until a permanent one is hired.

Ms. Roser served as director of planning and development for the city of Newark from Feb. 2012 until Jan. 2017, during which time she managed four divisions within the department: Land Use, Economic Development, Parking and Code Enforcement.

That experience should serve Ms. Roser well in her interim role, considering the DDP has five standing committees composed of volunteers from the community: Design Committee; Promotion; Organization; Parking & Safety; and Economic Restructuring.

The Downtown Dover Partnership is almost a decade old.

In July 2008 the Downtown Dover Development Corporation, Main Street Dover and the Dover Parking Authority merged to form the DDP.

On its website, the DDPa says it is “committed to provide our residents, businesses and visitors with a great place in which to visit, shop, live and work as evidenced by our Vision, Mission, and Critical Success Factors.”

Ms. Bradbury said the organizational will keep on rolling along with business as usual.

“We will keep going and doing the same projects we have trying to do to bring Dover forward,” she said.

Delaware State News staff writer Mike Finney can be reached at mfinney@newszap.com.

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