Time will tell if history praises or dings Scott Dadson, Beaufort's outgoing city manager. Whatever the verdict, it is unlikely he will be ignored, because his tenure intersected with interesting and challenging times.
The city announced Tuesday that Dadson is seeking other employment and will depart by Jan. 31, 2015. He came to the city from Buena Vista, Va., to replace John McDonough in 2006, just before the start of the national economic downturn that largely defined his tenure and the struggles of local governments across the country.
Although the Great Recession was a force beyond Dadson's control, he and his staff met it with energy.
The city cut its budget, outsourced services and consolidated its work force. Despite the lean times, Beaufort moved into a new municipal center, planned for a new fire station in the Mossy Oaks area and contributed to the construction of the Spanish Moss Trail.
These are accomplishments of which Dadson should be proud.
As is often the case in challenging times, however, question marks and failures also punctuated his tenure. Among them was the reorganization of the Beaufort Redevelopment Commission and that body's bungled attempt to redevelop the parking lot next to the city's marina. Downtown parking is as much of a concern today as it was when Dadson stepped into the office, with the interim filled by a mismanaged attempt to replace coin-fed meters on Bay Street with kiosks. The purchase of the beleaguered Beaufort Commerce Park still has paid no dividends, and on Dadson's watch, the city created the Office of Civic Investment, an oddity that gave private contractors and New Urbanists great reign over a public department and city planning.
Dadson will almost certainly vacate his office before the city is finished crafting its form-based code or before the spade is turned on major portions of the Boundary Street improvements.
But if the city manager leaves with unfinished business, he will at least leave in business-like fashion.
Months-long rumblings that Dadson was on his way out led to quiet predictions of a nasty separation. To the contrary, Dadson and City Council have set the stage for a smooth transition that allows the former to seek new employment and the latter to seek a replacement.
Let's hope cordiality continues.
It might be years before anyone can accurately judge whether Dadson's tenure moved the city forward or merely sideways. Let it never be said, however, that Beaufort stood still while Dadson was city manager.