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Gainesville City Commission Accepts Manager Anthony Lyons' Resignation

Gainesville city commissioners will wait until January to name an interim city manager to replace outgoing city manager Anthony Lyons.

The city commission accepted his resignation on Thursday, a week after some commissioners had complained about his management style and problems with employee morale. Before Mayor Lauren Poe allowed people to speak about the city manager situation, he acknowledged the divided opinions on Lyons.

"It is a difficult situation," Poe said. "I know there are many people in our community and in this room that are grateful for more than a decade of service the manager has provided. I know there are many people in this room and community who are ready to see a change."

Poe went on to praise Lyons for the work he had done, as did many people in attendance. Under the plan, he'll transfer to an advisory role next month when the commission names an interim manager, then leave city employment in February. Lyons in 2017 earned $235,938 in wages, according to city payroll records.

One ardent Lyons supporter was Phoebe Cade Miles, co-founder of the Cade Museum. She said without Lyons, the museum would have struggled with a location.

"He's the first one who showed us the site," Miles said. "I constantly get calls from people who were opposed to that site: 'It's dangerous, it's a toxic waste dump, no one would ever go there. Don't go there.' Anthony is the one who made me open my eyes and see it is a wonderful site."

Now the Cade Museum and Depot Park are considered jewels of south Gainesville.

Two city commissioners who had questioned employee morale and Lyons' management style brought up some issues.

Gail Johnson, who started the discussion on the manager's future a week ago by calling for a meeting to discuss management issues, said dealing with the replacement of top employees is no easy task, but it must be done.

"This is my job. This is what you elected me to do. It is nothing personal. This is my job. It's hard as hell. But this is my job," she said.

Gigi Simmons wanted to know about what appeared to be an ultimatum from Lyons,  that the commission had to accept his resignation by 6 p.m. last night. She also wanted to know why Lyons would not sit at the table with commissioners as he had in the past. He chose not to speak. Commissioners accepted Lyons' resignation 6-0, with Commissioner David Arreola absent.

Forrest is a radio news manager for WUFT News. Reach him by emailing news@wuft.org or calling 352-392-6397.