Ex-Park City manager: ‘I wouldn’t change a thing’ even after being forced out
Diane Foster left the Marsac Building in early October having risen through the ranks of the municipal government, ultimately serving as the Park City manager for longer than six years.
The departure was unexpected at a time when City Hall appears to have broad support from rank-and-file Parkites as officials pursue an aggressive agenda involving issues like housing and transportation. Foster’s tenure as the city manager seemed outwardly successful as well, guiding staffers through crucial issues such as the final years of the Treasure discussions that led to City Hall’s acquisition of the long-disputed hillside land.
The personnel move, described at the time by Mayor Andy Beerman and the Park City Council as a separation, was the most dramatic personnel-related move at the Marsac Building in two decades, since the departure of a Park City attorney in the summer of 1999.
Foster at the time she left the municipal government provided a prepared statement through City Hall saying she respected the decision by the elected officials and she cherished the opportunity she had to make a difference in the community and to the staffers.
She did not speak publicly about the departure, though. It was not clear at the time whether City Hall required a gag order as part of the separation agreement and release of all claims negotiated between the sides. The agreement, released by City Hall on Tuesday in response to a Park Record request under state open-records law, shows there was not such an order, allowing Foster and City Hall officials to speak publicly.
Foster in an interview on Wednesday discussed a broad range of topics, primarily about the staff she once led and the municipal successes rather than the final days and weeks prior to her departure.
She did not describe ill will toward the municipal government or the elected officials, instead saying City Hall continues to operate at a high level. She said she respected the decision of the elected officials to make a change in the city manager’s office.
“Even having been terminated without cause, I wouldn’t change a thing,” Foster said. “It was an awesome seven years.”
She said she is “super proud” of the work of City Hall staffers and the elected officials during her tenure. Foster did not talk about individual policies or projects as she described the successes but rather praised the “collaborative spirit of the city.” She said staffers at all levels matter in the Park City hierarchy.
“I didn’t do any of it alone,” she said, adding, “There is a one for all mentality at the city.”
The municipal government enjoyed a string of successes during her time as the city manager. The acquisitions of Treasure and Bonanza Flat for conservation purposes were two of City Hall’s greatest conservation deals while officials also acquired the Bonanza Park land with plans to develop an arts and culture district. There has been movement on City Hall’s housing and sustainability efforts as well, even as there have been scattered concerns about the aggressiveness of the housing work. She noted a leadership and development program for staffers was put in place as well.
Foster said she anticipates City Hall will continue to function at a high level. The staffers, coupled with the elected officials, are highly productive, she said.
“Now that I’m gone, it’s not any less,” she said about what she sees as the strong performance of City Hall, adding, “It’s the whole that matters.”
Foster, 55, lives in the Park City Heights neighborhood. She said she is unsure whether she will remain in Park City on a long-term basis. She is seeking new opportunities in municipal government. Foster said she has applied for a city manager post with a larger community outside of Utah and a deputy city manager position, also in a larger community outside the state.
She acknowledged the departure was “pretty much a shock to the system.”
“I have days when I get sad, but I’m mostly over that,” Foster said.
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The Park City Ice Arena is expected to temporarily close later in 2021 to allow crews to replace the ice surface and perform other maintenance work, one of a series of projects City Hall plans to outline at an upcoming open house. It will be an in-person event.