Martin leaves post in Beaufort's civic investment office

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Martin leaves post in Beaufort's civic investment office

By CASEY CONLEY
cconley@islandpacket.com
Published Wednesday, August 29, 2012   |  533 Words  |  

A contractor who helped drive redevelopment efforts for the city of Beaufort has resigned.

Josh Martin, The Lawrence Group's associate in residence with the city's Office of Civic Investment, will leave the firm this month to begin a doctoral program in Washington, D.C.

Lawrence Group principal Craig Lewis -- and possibly other company employees -- will continue working with the city at least through December, when the firm's two-year contract expires. Lewis and city officials said most of the work on the contract is completed.

Lewis said the company's duties included helping get the Office of Civic Investment and other planning efforts off the ground. However, it has "been tapering that back since July."

Lewis, who typically works from North Carolina but visits Beaufort several times a month, will increase his time in Beaufort during the next few months.

Martin's departure was planned for some time, city manager Scott Dadson said. No city employees work in the civic investment office, although he said staff from several departments worked alongside Martin.

"He's done a great job for us," Dadson said. "He has been a real valuable asset to the organization and city as a whole. ... But I also know (The Lawrence Group) is a deep organization with lots of talent, and that is something we feel good about."

The company will continue to help the city develop codes and the Civic Master Plan, and will continue managing Boundary Street renovations and other projects, Dadson said.

From 2010 until last month, when he scaled back to three days a week, Martin was a full-time presence in City Hall, working with the planning department, the Redevelopment Commission and other city offices. He led a block-by-block survey of the city and helped develop a vision for the Civic Master Plan, Mayor Billy Keyserling said.

"Josh is a brilliant planner and a very hands-on, easy-to-work-with individual. But at the same time, a major portion of the work they were hired to do is completed," Keyserling said. "It was going to be time to eventually scale back on consulting and be more focused on the doing, which is likely to be a function of city staff."

Meanwhile, the city has begun discussions with The Lawrence Group to extend the contract, Lewis said. The current deal includes a mix of fee-for-service payments and lump-sum payments, he said. The exact amount the city has paid for the firm's services during the past two years was unavailable Wednesday.

Attempts this week to reach Martin for comment were unsuccessful.

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