050918 WES interim town manager Rooney hh 95.JPG

Westerly Town Manager J. Mark Rooney

WESTERLY  — J. Mark Rooney, who has served as town manager for more than three years, submitted a letter of resignation Thursday.

Town Council President Sharon Ahern confirmed that she accepted a letter of resignation from Rooney after he requested a meeting with her at Town Hall. Earlier in the day, Rooney notified each council member by email of his intent to announce his resignation.

Ahern said that Rooney expressed interest in staying on in the job for a transition period. She said she was seeking input from Town Attorney William J. Conley Jr. on how to proceed and anticipated discussing Rooney's status with the Town Council during a meeting scheduled for Monday. The council was planning to work on Rooney's annual performance review in executive session during the meeting.

Rooney was sworn in as town manager in an interim capacity in May 2018 and given the job on a permanent basis a few months later in August. A retired U.S. Army Reserves lieutenant colonel, Rooney came to the town with more than 20 years of experience working in municipal government in four municipalities and villages in Illinois.

Town Councilor Philip Overton was on the council when Rooney was hired.

"I was surprised. Mark did a good job — he definitely righted the ship. We were floundering there for a while," Overton said.

Overton pointed to Rooney's work on public rights of way or paths to the shoreline, management of the municipal budget, and handling of personnel issues as positive highlights of his tenure in Westerly. Rooney undertook and completed a project to mark the rights of way with signs and granite posts. In some cases he also oversaw efforts to clear and improve rights of way that had become overgrown and encroached upon by neighboring private property owners.

"He's a professional with a lot of experience — that's why we brought him here," Overton said.

Councilor Brian McCuin also cited Rooney's work on the rights of way as a stand-out achievement and praised his work on road and infrastructure projects.

"He pushed those road projects through and saved the town a lot of money," McCuin said. "He really got a lot of stuff done in the town."

McCuin said he hoped his fellow council members agree to have Rooney stay on to assist with the transition to a new town manager.

In July, Rooney appointed Jeffrey N. Monteleone, whom he had worked with in Carpentersville, Ill., to serve as director of the town's development services in Westerly. Monteleone was dismissed in August after a background check revealed areas of concern, including two domestic violence arrests for which he was not convicted. The development services position remains vacant, as does the town's human resources director position and its zoning officer position.

Ahern declined to provide a copy of Rooney's resignation letter. Rooney did not return telephone and e-mail messages  seeking comment for this article. He also did not provide a copy of his resignation letter.

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