DeLong announces retirement from city of Grand Rapids

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Eric DeLong. Courtesy City of Grand Rapids

After 42 years in public service, Grand Rapids Deputy City Manager Eric DeLong announced his plans for retirement in early 2022.

Over the past 26 years, DeLong was a major player in a variety of public infrastructure and improvement projects that have enhanced residents’ quality of life and made Grand Rapids a destination city.

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, 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.

He has played a significant role in development of the city’s transformation and strategic plans; the city’s Vital Streets program; the parks, pools and playgrounds proposal; and the development of Van Andel Arena, DeVos Place Convention Center and Medical Mile.

DeLong currently is steering completion of the city’s biodigester/natural gas/phosphorous recovery, Grand River restoration/River for All, and 201 Market Avenue/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 the city of Grand Rapids in May 1995 as assistant city manager overseeing public works. He earned promotion to deputy city manager – a role he has held since – in November 1999 and has served three city managers in that position.

During his tenure with the city, he served as interim/acting city manager for seven months following the 2009 retirement of Kimball. He again served in that same capacity for seven months following the 2015 retirement of Sundstrom.

Washington said DeLong has made a tremendous contribution to the city, “having played a leading role in its growth and development through a collaborative, solution-oriented approach emphasizing partnerships and shared vision.

“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. He has consistently honored that commitment, for which I will always be thankful,” Washington added. “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.”

Prior to Grand Rapids, DeLong served as the Spring Lake village manager from January 1983 to April 1995 and as an administrative assistant to the city manager of the city of Portage from March 1979 to December 1982.

DeLong has served as a member of the Governor’s 21st Century Infrastructure Commission, the Michigan Council on Future Mobility, the Michigan Trial Court Funding Commission and the Michigan Infrastructure Asset Management Pilot. He is a member of the International City/County Management Association (ICMA) and is a 2013 recipient of the prestigious John M. Patriarche Distinguished Service Award from the Michigan Municipal League. He serves as Treasurer of the Michigan Municipal Services Authority.

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

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