Eull helped shape NilesPublished 10:48pm Tuesday, September 20, 2011
For Terry Eull, the list of city accomplishments during his 13-year tenure as city administrator is long: the construction of a new fire station and law enforcement complex, improvements to Riverfront Park, a downtown streetscape project and the “Big Brown Takedown” — the removal of brown siding from the facades of historic downtown buildings.
Eull, who retires at the end of the month, also helped oversee the removal of community eyesores like the Borden Hotel, the gas stations on Fourth and Fifth streets downtown and the Kawneer factory building.
Mayor Mike McCauslin said the projects that Eull has helped complete in Niles add up to tens of millions of dollars of improvements, most of which came at little to no cost to the city.
But more important than the list of accomplishments has been Eull’s “collaborative” leadership style, McCauslin said.
“I could tick off a number of projects he’s been behind,” he said. “But it’s his ability to bring everybody to the table and get everybody to share a vision that stands out. He has the unique ability to bring everybody together, to start with eight visions and bring it to one.”
Former city police chief Ric Huff, who will take over for Eull in October, agrees.
“One of the things that he’s accomplished more than anything else is bringing individual departments together,” Huff said. “Twenty-five years ago most of our employees didn’t know who worked in another department. That has changed significantly.”
Eull’s focus on team-building is evident when he talks about city accomplishments in his career.
“It’s been a heck of a team effort,” Eull said. “We got to sit down, share ideas and get creative.”
Many of the big projects in Eull’s career took place between 1999 and 2004, a time period Eull describes as “exciting, challenging and fun.”
“We were fortunate we did those things when we did because in ‘05-06 is when the finances began to change. Those opportunities are few and far between now,” Eull said.
Budgeting has gotten increasingly more difficult and stressful in recent years with reductions in state revenue sharing, Eull said.
“We’ve had to deal with the reduction in revenues. We’ve cut 25 or 30 staff in the last four or five years,” he said. “It’s more of a battle now to maintain the level of services.”
But McCauslin said Eull has been able to win that battle.
“He has still managed to provide the services that people in the community want. That says the most about Terry. He is able to give the community what it wants,” McCauslin said.
Eull, a Brandywine High School graduate and Vietnam veteran, has worked for the City of Niles or Niles Township for 34 years and he plans to spend his retirement at home too.
He said he is looking forward to relief from the stress of day-to-day management of the city but will miss problem solving and “being around people who solve problems.”
He is confident in his successor, who has been working with Eull at City Hall since June.
“Ric has a great deal of administrative experience. He will have a short learning curve,” he said.
Said Huff: “I have big shoes to fill.”