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Grand Rapids deputy city manager announces upcoming retirement

Posted at 2:43 PM, Jul 27, 2021

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Grand Rapids Deputy City Manager Eric DeLong is planning to retire early next year after a 42-year public service career that has included a variety of public infrastructure and improvement projects.

DeLong coordinates policy and direction for nine city departments, including: engineering, planning and design, economic development, mobile GR and traffic safety, community development/code compliance, parks and recreation, public works, Grand Rapids water system and environmental services.

As chief operating officer, he oversees a $280 million budget spread across those departments, along with assuming leadership roles in many of the city’s strategic initiatives, according to a news release Tuesday.

He has played a major role in the city’s transformation and strategic plans, the city’s Vital Streets program, parks, pools and playgrounds proposal and the development of the arena, convention center and Medical Mile.

DeLong is currently steering completion of the city’s biodigester/natural gas/phosphorous recovery, Grand River restoration/River for All and 201 Market Ave./Kent County Road Commission projects.

“I have had the privilege to serve as deputy city manager to three exceptional city managers – Kurt Kimball, Greg Sundstrom and Mark Washington – all of whom are dedicated to this community,” DeLong said. “Working together with residents, business leaders, our exceptional staff, mayors and city commissioners, we have built a better city by design. Best of all, we have built momentum for a very promising future. It has been an honor to help Grand Rapidians achieve their vision for what their city could become. My wife, Sharai, and I treasure this community and call it home.”

DeLong joined Grand Rapids as assistant city manager overseeing public works in May 1995.

He earned the promotion to deputy city manager – a role he has held since – in November 1999 and has served three city managers in that role.

During his tenure with the city, he served as interim/acting city manager for seven months after the 2009 retirement of City Manager Kurt Kimball.

He again served in that same capacity for seven months after the 2009 retirement of City Manager Greg Sundstrom.

Before coming to Grand Rapids, DeLong was the Spring Lake village manager from January 1983 to April 1995 and an administrative assistant to Portage’s city manager from March 1979 to December 1982.

City Manager Mark Washington says DeLong has made a major contribution to the city.

“When I arrived in Grand Rapids, Eric was among the first people to welcome me, and he did so warmly with a sincere commitment to help ensure our city’s success,” Washington said. “He has consistently honored that commitment, for which I will always be thankful. Eric is one of the hardest working people I know, and his commitment is reflected not only in the sheer quantity of hours he gives to his work, but also in the excellent quality and consistency of his leadership. His expertise in the principles of city management – generally, and the policies and procedures of this city, specifically – is unsurpassed. His ability to synthesize information from multiple sources, disciplines and departments to arrive at unique and innovative solutions has been outstanding.”

Washington says he plans to launch a national search in the coming months to fill the deputy city manager position.