High Praise For Hyatt

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You might think a job evaluation in public would be awkward when most are done behind closed doors. That was far from the case for Fort Myers Beach Town Manager Andy Hyatt who celebrated his one-year anniversary by receiving a bucketload of praise from the 5 people who hired him.

Since he was hired Hyatt has given more responsibility to Operations & Compliance Director Frankie Kropacek, he’s slowly made personnel changes to build his own team and he’s rebuilt the culture inside Town Hall. He told the council they now gel like a cohesive team. “We try to get a win every day. Over the last year we’ve gotten a lot of wins.”

Hyatt was hired after it was clear that this Town Council was not a fan of the previous Town Manager, especially following Hurricane Ian and the communication breakdown between the local government and the community. Keith Wilkins was brought in to bridge the gap until a new Town Manager was found with Hyatt taking the position in April of 2023.

Hyatt had been the Manager of Surfside, Florida when a 12-story building collapsed at 1:22AM on the morning of June 24, 2021. The experience of dealing with that tragedy was pivotal in his hiring on Fort Myers Beach after Hurricane Ian damaged or destroyed nearly every structure in the community.

When he first arrived Hyatt had to understand where everything was, what kind of team he had and whether he could trust the elected body to back him. And, by the way, he had to deal with the debris, FEMA, helping businesses get back open, and a permitting department the community was enraged about. All without a Town Hall to function out of.

In those first few months it was less likely what the town charter called for: a strong Town Manager and a weak Town Council. It was a team effort with the manager working side-by-side with all 5 council members to get the community over the Ian hump.

The praise for the job Hyatt has done after year one was unanimous from all 5 Town Council members. Vice Mayor Jim Atterholt said the culture change under Hyatt’s leadership has been tremendous. “The way you delegate demonstrates you have a comfort in your own skin. You have established a footprint in this town.”

Atterholt said he would like to see Hyatt more aggressively lead knowing now that after a year he has the full support of the Town Council.

Hyatt admitted when he was first hired the Town Council didn’t know what they were getting in him and he didn’t know what he was getting in them. Not to mention the second worst storm in the history of the state with the town he was just hired to run hit the hardest.

It’s part of Hyatt’s contract that he be evaluated in public every year by the Town Council. It can be unusual for a group of elected officials to agree 100 percent on how their manager is performing. However, for Hyatt, at least after one year, they believe he’s a keeper.

 

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