By ELLEN CARROLL and JOANNE PAPAIANNI
In the midst of an economic boom in Asbury Park, which has seen a dramatic resurgence in restaurants, bars and shops, the city has fired its director of economic development.
Tom Gilmour, who has been with the city 14 years and formerly served as the director of the Urban Enterprise Zone in the city, was informed in a letter from the city that his position would be eliminated and Oct. 30 would be his last day. Just a few years ago he and his wife sold their home in Fair Haven to live in the home they purchased in Asbury Park.
Gilmour declined to comment based on advice from his attorney. He did say the letter he received from the city was dated Sept. 24 and he received it a week or so after that.
Mayor John Moor said officials have been in the midst of restructuring since last year when the new City Council and himself were elected.
“We are in the final process of hiring a director of communications and the appointment should be made in the first week of November,” he said. “He was told to apply for the position but he did not.”
Under the ordinance introduced for the new communications director position, the salary range is $55,000 to $95,000. Gilmour’s salary was approximately $85,000 a year.
Moor also said it “Is not the end of restructuring in Asbury Park.”
Under the new administration several staffers and department heads are no longer employed by the city including the former city manager, the redevelopment attorney, the planner and the city engineer.
Leo Clark, owner of Fitness Lifestyles on Cookman Avenue, said he was very disappointed to hear Gilmour would be leaving his post.
“I’ve known Tom for 15 years, he always made himself available,” Clark said. “He was the number one cheerleader for Asbury Park. I don’t understand why they would get rid of their economic development director – that’s like getting rid of your sales team.”
Clark said he has been in business in the city since 1986 witnessing first hand the good and bad times.
“It’s hard to measure success with a ruler, but they’re going to notice when you’re gone. I’ve seen real bad times and I’ve seen the good times. If you’d seen it back then – I just don’t get it, Tom was great for the town,” Clark said.
Gilmour is credited with bringing the Urban Enterprise Zone program to life while it increased from producing $43,000 annually to $962,000 its last year. More recently he organized the Asbury Park Music in Film Festival which was held earlier this year and attracted thousands to the city.