That was made pretty clear during a press conference Wednesday held by Mayor Richard Frey to address the impending departure of Development Director Maclain Berhaupt.
Berhaupt has been with the city for three years and was a major force in development efforts that have resulted in the Boardwalk Market, the Crocker-Sprague building redevelopment, and the soon-to-be-built SUNY Technology Incubator.
Frey said, as he often has, that he didn’t hire Berhaupt, he invested in her. That investment paid off for the city, but the success made Berhaupt a valuable individual in the development world. And while Berhaupt will be moving back to her hometown, Frey knew the city couldn’t match the offer from the Jamestown Renaissance Corporation.
“Her financial future with the council as it existed right now was not very bright for the next two years anyways, so I’m sure it added into it, but I don’t think that was Mac’s primary reasons for it,” Frey said of the move. “When we hired Mac three years ago, I always said at the time she was an investment, she was not an employee and she definitely has been a great investment on behalf of the city of Dunkirk. ... I believe the conversation and debate about pay raises and that back in March, whenever it was, Councilwoman (Rose) Floramo had mentioned that she had five people that would, I’m assuming, qualify to take this job at this money. So I’ll be waiting to hear from Rose and hope that I’ll get that list of five people as we’re out looking right now and we have several people we want to bring to the table. I certainly want to include the people she may have.”
Frey then turned to praising Berhaupt as an appreciative audience of co-workers and elected officials looked on.
“Mac has left a lot of footprints in Dunkirk and the area and I think she was the one that was always thinking outside the box,” he said. “She didn’t have tunnel vision. She was thinking of the whole picture, not the little picture. I think this has been her great talent.
“When she came to me she had success written all over her, I knew I would never be able to keep Mac here. I’ve had four or five other people already that have said it; if they get this job she’s going with me. Or if I get this job, or if I ever do this job, I’m going to hire Mac away from you, at a lot more money than what we’re paying her here in the city of Dunkirk.”
Frey also mentioned other accomplishments of Berhaupt.
“You have to understand, it’s not just development. We’ve taken back over our CDBG, our DLDC back in the city, stuff like this,” he said. “You know this would not have happened if I hadn’t had her leadership and I didn’t have the faith in her to know we could do these things.”
Frey turned the floor over to Berhaupt, who fought her way through prepared remarks with teary eyes and a sometimes quavering voice.
“I would really like to take this opportunity to say thank you to the mayor, the city council, all of my colleagues here at city hall and to the community for letting me be a part of such a momentous time for the city of Dunkirk,” she said. “While I am moving on to a new venture and opportunity, my time here over the past three years has been exciting, challenging and extremely gratifying and I can’t thank everyone enough for the opportunity.
“While I am so proud of all we have accomplished over the past few years, I am most proud to have worked with such a progressive and visionary team here in the city. I have made so many good friends and I am so grateful for that.”
Citing the cooperative efforts and vision that made progress possible, Berhaupt pointed out that both are necessary.
“When developers look to come to a community they look for things like that and they like to see there’s a positive vision for the community so I really urge everyone to continue with that type of vision,” she said.
Berhaupt was asked about her new position, Urban Design Plan Director for the Jamestown Renaissance Corporation.
“The city of Jamestown completed their urban design plan a few years ago and they’re looking for someone to basically implement the caps and goals that are outlined in that plan,” she said. “I’ll be doing very similar work that we’ve done here in Dunkirk with the downtown development focus.”
As for the project she is most proud of Berhaupt was quick to choose the SUNY High Tech Incubator.
“I think that one is an important piece of the puzzle because it really was the catalyst for a lot of the other development occurring,” she said. “The mayor talks about involvement in regionalism and I think this project in particular has been able to break some of the bridges down, Dunkirk-Fredonia bridges. And I think it has created a new opportunity for the two communities to work together and expand their economic development efforts.”
Berhaupt was asked for a recommendation for the city she is leaving behind.
“Stay positive. Really, you can’t stress it enough,” she said. “ ... Like I said, we’ve had 100 percent support on the development. It really is unheard of in communities and that is why we’ve been able to do all of this.”
Berhaupt’s last official day with the city is Friday, June 27.
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When she came to me she had success written all over her. I knew I would never be able to keep (Maclain Berhaupt) here.”
Dunkirk Mayor Richard Frey