Director steps down after inquiry

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SOUTH PORTLAND — After being placed on administrative leave Oct. 30, the South Portland Parks, Recreation and Waterfront Director resigned Dec. 1.

Until someone is hired to replace Rick Towle, Parks Operations Manager Sarah Neuts will serve as acting director.

Human Resources Director Don Brewer, who would not discuss specifics, did say Monday that “complaints were brought forth that we needed to investigate.”

More than one person lodged a complaint, Brewer said, but disciplinary action was not taken against Towle.

Towle would not talk about the nature of the complaints or whether the individuals who filed them were male or female.

Based on the complaints filed, a series of witnesses were identified, Brewer said, who were brought in to speak with staff members in the city’s Human Resources Department as part of the investigation.

The internal investigation took about a month, Brewer said, and while it was underway, Towle was put on administrative leave.

Towle became director of parks, recreation and waterfront in June 2012. During the last three years, Towle has overseen the first phases of the city’s new Municipal Services Facility, off Highland Avenue and helped organize the city’s plan to install solarvoltaic panels at 10 municipal sites. Towle has also spearheaded initiatives to better accommodate accessibility to the outdoors for residents, such as replacing the path to Davidson’s Beach in Ferry Village, and the restoration of both Wilkinson Park and the Redbank Community Center and park.

“During the past 18 years, the focus on my professional life has been on the needs of those communities I have served each day,” Towle wrote in his resignation letter to City Manager Jim Gailey.

“Your efforts to help me while with the city have been most appreciated as there have been several areas of improvement we work on together these past few years,” Towle wrote. “Winterfest, Wilkinson Park and (the) Redbank Community Center are all examples of the efforts made to enhance the community through public access to recreation.”

A job advertisement for the Parks, Recreation and Waterfront Director was posted on national job boards Monday, Dec. 7, Brewer said.

Alex Acquisto can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 106 or Follow Alex on Twitter: @AcquistoA.


South Portland and Scarborough reporter for The Forecaster. Graduate of Western Kentucky University and the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies. Alex can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 106.