A prominent face of Harlem government is stepping down.
City Manager Jean Dove will retire at the end of the month. City officials approved her decision to retire and appointed her successor, current Assistant City Manager Jason Rizner, at Monday's city council meeting.
"It is very sad," said City Councilwoman Robin Root, who has worked closely with Dove since she was elected to the council more than 10 years ago. "It is like a family member is moving away, a piece of you that is going to be leaving, a piece that you depend on a lot."
Dove served the city for 33 years, starting as a water clerk in 1977.
One reason for her retirement, Dove said, is to care for her ailing husband, Edward.
"He's just been my background supporter all these years," Dove said, adding that she plans to enjoy her retirement by indulging in some new hobbies and catching up on her reading. "I've had a great 33-year career with the city and now it is time to devote more time to my family."
Dove said she has served under several city government administrations, including six mayors. She was appointed city clerk in 1988 and moved into the newly created city manager position in 2002.
Dove said she'll miss the job, which she plans to continue part-time to finish several projects. But she won't miss the long hours and stress that the job often brought.
"Every day there is something new," Dove said. "It has been challenging and definitely not boring."
All who know and work with Dove agree that she is a huge asset to the city, knowing the ins and outs of nearly every aspect of its operation.
"It is a big change," said City Clerk Debbie Moore, who has worked alongside Dove for 11 years. "Everybody depends on her. She's a world of knowledge."
Root said she and other city officials depend heavily on Dove. She doesn't help city officials make decisions, Root said, but works hard to ensure their decisions are well-informed.
In addition to city business and projects, Root said Dove knows all about the city's residents.
Dove has lived in Harlem since she was 6 years old, when her father was transferred to Fort Gordon. Since then, she's seen the city double its size through annexation and about double its population.
During that growth, Dove has had her hand in nearly every city project and said she's proud of all of them, especially the opening of the Mary E. Sanders Community Center and the Senior Center in the Harlem City Park, the streetscape project expansion of the library and the installation of a new marquis on the Harlem theater.
But there's one thing that hasn't changed.
"It still maintains that community atmosphere," she said. "Over the years, it still has that same community feel."
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