Tuesday, June 2, 2020     Volume: 21, Issue: 13

Santa Maria Sun / News

The following article was posted on September 11th, 2019, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 20, Issue 28 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 20, Issue 28

Solvang makes multiple management changes

By William D'Urso

After the recent divorce with its tourism nonprofit, the city of Solvang announced another separation and a new partnership.

Solvang parted ways with City Manager David Gassaway in a mutual decision, according to a Sept. 9 news release from the city. Gassaway had been appointed to city manager in February.

“Mr. Gassaway brings a lot of talent to the table with his knowledge and work ethic,” Mayor Ryan Toussaint said in the release. “The City Council has a different direction for the community, and we mutually agreed that a separation would allow the City Council to achieve its desired outcomes. We wish David well and thank him for his time in Solvang.”

The city spokeswoman Kady Fleckenstein said she could not comment beyond the press release.

City officials also recently announced the hiring of new management to run its visitors center. Creative Visual Solutions will take up the duties once carried out by the Solvang Conference and Visitors Bureau (SCVB). The company is owned by Brenda Ball, a former director of digital media for the SCVB. She’s taking up the visitors center duties with her husband, Jim Ball.

Negotiations with the SCVB ended once the two parties hit an impasse over an at-will clause, which would allow the city to end the contract at any time. The SCVB refused to sign any contract with such a clause, so the city stopped negotiations and sought new options. It contracted Visit the Santa Ynez Valley to help promote upcoming events and hired Creative Visual Solutions to run the visitors center.

“We are looking forward to serving the global visitors of Solvang with professionalism and enthusiasm,” Ball said in a release issued by the city. “The Visitors Center is not only a service the city provides for visitors. Residents can utilize our services as well for more information about dining options, fun activities, and special events in Solvang. We’re here to help everyone.”

In City Hall, officials said that they’ll release information about the selection process for a new city manager at a later date. 

Gassaway had a five-year contract, but he won’t walk away empty handed.

As part of that contract, Solvang will pay him a severance equal to six months’ salary and benefits. Gassaway earned an annual salary of $175,000.

“I have enjoyed my time in this wonderful community. During my tenure, the City Council and I were able to set the stage for a new course in Solvang’s rich history. I wish the City Council success as they lead change for the community,” Gassaway said in the release. 

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