By J. PATRICK PEPPER
DEARBORN — East Dearborn Downtown Development Authority Director Michael Boettcher on Thursday was placed on administrative leave for what authority board members describe as poor job performance.
“There were a number of projects that weren’t completed in a timely fashion, there was direction given to him by the executive committee that wasn’t really followed to their satisfaction,” said EDDDA Chairman John Morgan when asked about the reasoning behind the move.
The decision was made by the authority’s executive committee and will remain in effect until the entire board meets Sept. 10. Boettcher has until Sept. 8 to decide whether he wants a hearing in front of the board.
If he does file for a hearing, he will be granted a closed session to state his case for retention. If he doesn’t file and decides to challenge the decision anyway, the session would be open to the public.
Morgan, also the president of Midwest Dental, and board member Michael Bewick, who is the Times-Herald’s publisher, went to the EDDDA office accompanied by mayoral security personnel to inform Boettcher of the decision and spent most of the morning packing up his things. Both Morgan and Bewick said Boettcher was cooperative.
“We gave (Boettcher) the opportunity to remove his personal possessions – which he did – and Michael was very professional throughout,” Morgan said.
Boettcher, an avid historic architecture preservationist, was hired in 2004 to help spearhead a redevelopment effort in the district. According to a press release issued by the city at that time, Boettcher previously worked in the city of Detroit’s Planning and Development Department and in 2003 earned a master’s degree in urban planning from Wayne State University.
One of the opportunities Boettcher said he looked forward to most was the redevelopment of the Montgomery Ward building, noting it could be the centerpiece of a new Royal Oak-type shopping district. He was a critic of plans to tear the building down, however, and spoke out adamantly against them as it became increasingly clearer that demolition likely would be chosen.
Morgan said the decision to place Boettcher on administrative leave wasn’t easy, but it was necessary.
“These are difficult decisions, especially in these economic times, but you look at the greater good of the district, and I think, personally, the decision had to be made at this time,” Morgan said.